SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said that patients on health service waiting lists must receive regular updates on their condition.
He was speaking after the Public Service Ombudsman found the system was in disarray and failings amounted to “systematic maladministration".
Mr McGrath said the Ombudsman’s recommendations must be implemented alongside plans to tackle waiting lists.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“The findings from the Ombudsman show that the communication between patients on waiting lists and our health service falls far short of what should be expected. I can only imagine what it’s like to be left waiting for years in need of treatment only to hear nothing about any progress being made or updates on when you should expect to be seen.
“It’s clear that these delays have a significant impact on patient’s mental health, while delays in care will result in medical conditions worsening for many. The recommendations from the Ombudsman provide a clear pathway to addressing these issues in terms of keeping patients informed throughout their care and they must be implemented alongside long-term plans to tackle our waiting lists.
“I understand the pressure our health service and its staff are under and I welcome steps that some trusts have already taken to address the concerns raised in this report. The real issue here is that patients are facing waits of years for treatment due to a health service on the brink of collapse. Dealing with this will require our institutions at Stormont restored and a properly funded health service transformation plan which results in patients being seen in a timely manner and kept updated every step of the way.”