The Ulster Unionists have been accused of scaremongering over claims almost 400,000 people are waiting on healthcare treatment in Northern Ireland.
During an Assembly debate on Tuesday, the party’s East Antrim MLA, Roy Beggs, said one in five people here are currently on a waiting list for treatment.
He again repeated his claim on Wednesday morning’s Stephen Nolan show.
Asked if he was “double counting” with the 392,000 figure – meaning one person could feature multiple times in his figures – Mr Beggs denied that was the case.
“If the (health) minister would publish exactly how many individuals are involved, we’d be able to say exactly how many people there were.”
Eventually, Mr Beggs conceded to using the term “cases” instead of people. He added: “What we can say is there are 392,000 people on government waiting lists for out-patients, for in-patients clearly they are two separate lists. And a further 96,000 waiting for diagnostics.”
Asked if they were different people, he said some may be.
“Undoubtedly there will be some people who may be waiting on two of the lists.”
DUP health spokeswoman Paula Bradley accused the UUP of scaremongering.
“The UUP’s ‘double counting’ of waiting lists does a disservice to the public and undermines the credibility of opposition within the Assembly,” she said.
“Many people on waiting lists will already be concerned and they should not have fears exploited for cheap political gain.”
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