SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has welcomed the announcement of a Stroke Action Plan.
However, Mr McGrath has raised significant concerns about the implementation timeline three years after the public consultation was launched.
Plans have also been announced for the rebuild of orthopaedic services and the extension of the reimbursement scheme for patients receiving treatment in the South.
Mr McGrath said the only way to implement the necessary health service reform was with a functioning Assembly and Executive.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“While the Stroke Action Plan will make a real difference for patients and their families, we need a clear timeline for implementation that will enhance services for those who need it. It has taken years to get to this stage and people are still waiting. These changes will help ensure patients receive the specific care and attention necessary to give them the best chance of recovery following a stroke and it's important we take into account the consultation responses, especially given our aging population and the increasing numbers of strokes.
"The lengthy wait for surgery has also greatly impacted people’s quality of life, leaving many in worsening pain and we need to see progress in cutting orthopaedic waiting lists as soon as possible. The extension of the reimbursement scheme for patients receiving treatment in the South is also extremely welcome. We have sought clarity on this issue for some time and I’m glad that this will provide extra capacity and take some of the pressure of our current health service, while allowing patients to receive the treatment they need. We need to explore greater cross-border cooperation between our health services to address the issues we are facing.
“While I welcome the progress being made, the fact remains that if we are ever going to implement the reforms that our health service badly needs then we need to have a functioning Assembly and Executive. Our hands are tied by the DUP’s continued boycott of our institutions and until we can provide the planning and funding necessary to make a real difference waiting lists will only get longer and patients will suffer as a result.”