SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has questioned repeated delays to the publishing of emergency care waiting time statistics.
The publishing of the figures for October-December 2021 has been postponed until February 11, the second postponement in as many weeks.
Mr McGrath has contacted the Department of Health looking for clarity around the delays, with the department saying it is due to the resources required to update the daily Covid-19 dashboard and Covid related staff absences.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“The emergency care waiting time statistics are incredibly important, particularly as we seek to address the significant wait that too many people face when they attend hospitals. These figures were due to be published last week and this is the second time the date has been pushed back.
“While I accept resources have been stretched as a result of maintaining the Covid-19 dashboard, and many sectors face staffing absences due to the virus still spreading in our communities, these figures are very important as an effective way of monitoring the performance of our health service and identifying what steps need to be taken going forward.
“We are under no illusions – we know the situation is deteriorating, that key targets are being missed and patients are waiting long periods of time for treatment, with some even leaving our emergency departments before being seen. We understand the pressure our healthcare staff are under and in no way are these missed targets a reflection on their efforts.
“Our health service was in a desperate situation long before Covid-19 arrived and it has been pushed to the brink of collapse as a result of mismanagement and a failure to implement long overdue reform. 15 years of Sinn Féin and the DUP leading the Executive has been disastrous for our health service. If we are going to take steps to improve the current situation and give our staff the support they need then we need to be armed with as much information as possible before doing so.”