Ulster Unionist East Antrim candidate Roy Beggs has accused Health Minister Michelle O’Neill of blatant disregard and cruelly raising expectations of patients, after she failed to meet her own key commitment to produce a plan to tackle the crisis in hospital waiting lists by January.
Roy Beggs, a former member of the Stormont Health Committee, said:
“The very first action point in the Department of Health’s response to the Bengoa report was that by January 2017 it would develop a comprehensive approach for addressing the unprecedented waiting lists crisis.
“The collapse of the Assembly as a fallout of the RHI debacle put the plan under some doubt, yet when asked only three weeks ago the Sinn Fein Health Minister stated that she still intended to publish the plan later in January, along with an indicative budget. This didn’t happen.
“It is an absolute outrage that Ministers can so cruelly raise and then dash expectations. This at a time when never before in the history of the local NHS have so many people been waiting so long for key diagnostic tests and treatment.
“The Minister may think she is better spending her time fronting the Sinn Fein election campaign, yet the reality is her own senior officials are warning that the longer patients are forced to wait the greater the chance there is of them coming to serious harm.
“It is also galling to hear DUP representatives now coming out to demand action on the waiting lists. They had five full years at the helm of the Health Department, and it was as a result of their inaction and under their watch that waiting lists have spiralled downwards.
“The current DUP/SF Executive have failed to produce a budget. They have failed to publish and fund the comprehensive approach for addressing waiting lists promised by January 2017. Many patients simply won’t and can’t afford to wait any longer.”