Ulster Unionist Assembly Candidate for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Alastair Patterson, has expressed his anger after it was revealed that the current waiting time for routine spinal appointments is now 110 weeks and is ‘rising in 4 weekly increments each month’. As such, people waiting for an appointment might never be seen as the delays are growing at the same rate as people are waiting.
Alastair Patterson said:
“The crisis affecting the local NHS is deepening day by day. Whilst core services such as our emergency departments are very publically reaching breaking point, the pressures facing our orthopaedic services and the increase in the already long waiting times for patients with spinal conditions demonstrates that the entire service is facing the most unprecedented challenge at any time in the history of the NHS in Northern Ireland.
“In response to a query on the care of a patient in Fermanagh and South Tyrone, who has already been waiting from last May for a spinal appointment, it was revealed that the current waiting time for routine spinal appointments is 110 weeks and rising in 4 weekly increments each month. In addition we have been told once again that capacity in Musgrave Park Hospital spinal service does not meet the current demand for services.
“It is wholly unacceptable that people waiting on a spinal appointment have to wait over two years, but the revelation that the delays are deepening by four weeks every month raises the prospect that some patients might never be seen.
“Delays in spinal treatment only leads to patients coming to harm as the chronicity will often increase. It is shameful that the only support offered by the local Health Service to constituents is a bland encouragement to attend their GP for ‘ongoing pain management’. Setting aside the fact that it appears the NHS is now prepared to tolerate rather than treat pain, by actually referring patients to general practice – where this also an unparalleled crisis in terms of demand – it is clear that there is absolutely no logic or long-term plan being implemented to support patients through the current extraordinary situation facing our local NHS.”