SDLP South Down MLA Colin McGrath has called for an ambitious plan to address the North’s health waiting lists.
He was speaking after the Department of Health revealed 358,807 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment at the end of March.
Over 82% of patients are waiting more than nine weeks for their first appointment, with 52% waiting longer than a year.
Mr McGrath said the next Executive must work with Health Minister Robin Swann to tackle waiting lists.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“While it will come as no surprise, these new waiting list statistics show the staggering number of people currently waiting for health treatment across the North. It’s important to remember that behind every single one of these statistics is someone in need of healthcare who faces a long wait. In many cases this will have a significant impact on their quality of life, their families and their physical and mental health.
“I welcome the steps announced by Minister Swann yesterday to help tackle waiting lists, but realistically the extra £46m will have a negligible impact. While I accept the Minister is hamstrung in what he can do because of the DUP’s blockage of our institutions, we need to wake up to the challenge in front of us and produce a realistic plan to slash these waiting and get people the medical treatment they desperately need. The Elective Care Framework fails to recognise the scale of the problems we now face.
“The SDLP has produced a twelve-point plan to address our waiting lists, transform our health service and save lives. It will require political leadership but we cannot stand idly by while our patients suffer and the pressure on our staff gets worse. Every day the DUP continue their boycott the situation in our communities deteriorates further. We need an Executive and Assembly back up and running again so we can get back to work and deal with issues like our healthcare waiting lists that are having a huge impact on people’s lives.”