SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said the latest emergency care waiting time statistics show the worsening situation in the North’s health service.
Mr McGrath was speaking after the Department of Health published the statistics for October to December last year, following a number of delays.
He said it was completely unacceptable that patients were facing longer waits to be discharged or admitted after attending an emergency department.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“The latest emergency care waiting time statistics make for grim reading. People across our communities are waiting longer for urgent care, staff are pushed to their limits and none of this is sustainable. But the worst part of this is that none of it is surprising. People expect worse waiting times, they expect poorer health outcomes, they’re becoming used to seeing queues of ambulances outside emergency departments. It is a symptom of 15 years of failure to address a huge problem in a critical frontline service.
“We saw a significant increase in those waiting over four and 12 hours for treatment compared with the same period last year. While the Covid-19 situation considerably improved towards the end of last year compared to the same period in 2020, the situation in our emergency departments got worse. While I understand the Omicron variant caused increased pressures, this still doesn’t explain how one year on from the height of the pandemic things have only deteriorated further.
“Our health staff have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, but there is only so much they can do. The North’s health service was in a dire state prior to the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and it’s patients who are suffering as a result of the long-standing failure to implement health reform. And when this situation needs addressed most, we don’t even have First Ministers. The DUP’s decision to collapse the Executive has once again critically undermined efforts to deal with the real problems people are facing. As parties continue to play politics with people’s lives waiting times and waiting lists will get longer and our health service will be further pushed to the brink of collapse.”