The Ulster Unionist Party Health Spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, has expressed her astonishment after the revelation that a record 396,783 people across Northern Ireland are waiting on treatment, a hospital appointment or a diagnostic test. That is equivalent to 22% of the entire Northern Ireland population.
The Upper Bann MLA said:
“The publication of these figures reveals the scale of the downward spiral that our local health service is in. Core services such as cancer diagnostics and treatments are waning, general surgery and pain management are reporting increasingly worsening service provision, staff morale across the NHS is collapsing and now it has shown once again that our hospital waiting lists are in an absolute nose-dive.
“It is wholly unacceptable that in 2015 almost 400,000 people are waiting on a hospital list. The number of people waiting on their first outpatient appointment at the end of September 2015 was 230,000. That was a jump from the 212,000 waiting in June. Most worryingly of all however is the sheer length that people are being forced to wait. There is a government target that nobody should wait longer that 18 weeks, yet the latest figures reveal that 110,000 - nearly half of all those waiting for a first outpatient appointment – have been forced to sit on a waiting list for longer than this period. That is simply inexcusable.
“In addition a further 90,000 people are waiting for a diagnostic and almost 63,000 on inpatient treatment.
“These people are often waiting in pain, distress and worry. It is clear that patients are coming to harm as key targets are being missed and absolutely vicious and cruel ailments such as cancer are avoidably taking hold.”