Following the publication of the latest A&E waiting time statistics, the Ulster Unionist Party’s Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has said that ‘frightening’ is the only word that can be used to describe the scale and pace of the deteriorating situation.
Roy Beggs said:
“The words crisis, breaking point and unprecedented challenges are becoming all too regular to describe the situation in the local health service. Yet there is no other term but frightening that can be used to describe what is happening in our emergency units right now.
"Only 59.3% of patients attending our major emergency departments in March were treated and discharged, or admitted within four hours of their arrival: a fall of almost 11% on the same period last year and it makes the official target of 95% look like wholly unrealistic wishful thinking. It is also far, far below the waiting times being reported in England, Scotland and Wales.
“Only two weeks ago there were warnings in England that it was witnessing its worst ever A&E waiting times on record and over there calls are growing for urgent government intervention and for heads to roll. Yet in March across all of its major units it still managed to see 76.4% of patients within 4 hours; an entire 17% better than our performance and yet no heads are rolling here.
“We must commend the frontline staff who are delivering emergency assessment and treatment, something which I myself recently experienced. A recent survey has once more however highlighted that staff are working under huge stress and that the overall system is simply not meeting expectations.
“This is not a blip, or a short-term problem – our health service is in the midst of its worst ever crisis and it’s getting worse with every passing day. People are coming to harm because they can’t get the right type of treatment when they need it. Some of those who can afford it are paying for treatments and procedures privately and those that can’t are being forced to suffer enduring pain and discomfort.
“We must not accept that this is the new normal for the local health service. We need to be doing so much better.”