DUP North Antrim MLA Mervyn Storey has expressed concern at the deepening crisis in waiting times for those seeking a first outpatient appointment with a consultant.
Commenting, Mervyn Storey said,
‘‘The figures released by the Department of Health provide harrowing insight into current waiting times in our hospitals.
At 31 December 2020, over half of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment – 167,806 in total and over fifty thousand more patients than the previous year. For specialties like ears, nose and threat and trauma and orthopaedics over two thirds of patients were waiting more than a year.
“The situation for those waiting on a diagnostic test was equally disturbing, with over 57,000 patients waiting more than 26 weeks.
“I fully appreciate the unprecedented challenges currently facing our health service. The Chief Nursing Officer has said there are no quick fixes to waiting lists but surely there is a need to give hope to patients who have already been waiting an inordinate amount of time simply to get a diagnosis or start the journey to treatment.
“It is critical that the Minster of Health brings forward revised plans and gives renewed clarity on a roadmap to restoring routine health services. There needs to be a recognition that a single-track focus on Covid-19, particularly as transmission drops, is a threat to our health service.
“I have again written to the Health Minister to ask him how he intends to ensure that the Causeway Hospital, Robinson and Dalriada are used to the maximum in any recovery Plan.”