Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Jo-Anne Dobson MLA has warned that the further deterioration of Accident and Emergency waiting times shows the crisis across the Health Service is worsening. The proportion of patients treated on time decreased to 69.7% in March.
The Upper Bann MLA said;
“The situation in particular appears to be deteriorating rapidly in a number of specific hospitals. For instance waiting times have all deteriorated by around 5% in Antrim Area, Craigavon and the Mater Hospitals in the space of only three months. In addition it is scandalous that in February of this year only 52.5% of people attending the Royal’s A&E were treated or admitted within four hours, even though the target is meant to be 95%. The reality is the longer people are forced to wait, the greater the risk.
“These latest statistics reflect what I have been hearing directly from patients and their families. Far too many people are having to wait for too long. Whilst it is very easy for the Minister and officials in the Department to say that too many of the people who are attending A&Es don’t need to, the reality is not enough focus is being given to the delivery of the service.
“In addition, on one hand people are being told only to go to A&Es in genuine emergencies, yet on the other the Department are slashing minor injuries and out of hours services. In addition there still remain huge challenges with GP waiting times, so many people are left feeling they have no choice but to attend their local hospital.
“The whole system is descending into chaos. We were incredibly fortunate that we had a relatively incident free winter, with no prolonged periods of ice or snow and no major outbreaks of flu endemics. Had we not been so fortunate, I dread to think what would have happened our A&Es.”