Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has said that the latest publication of emergency care waiting times, which showed yet another major deterioration, is a further illustration of why the responsibility for local health matters should be returned to Westminster.
Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey this week introduced a landmark Private Members Bill that would see local health functions returned to Westminster until a new Northern Ireland Executive is established.
Roy Beggs said:
“Summer should be the quietest time of year for our local A&E departments. I’m seriously concerned that so many people had to wait much longer than the target waiting times, and this suggests that our hospitals are on their way to an immensely challenging winter period.
“Doctors in England have been warning for some time that patients there are ‘dying prematurely’ amid ‘intolerable’ hospital delays. Yet the reality is the waiting times there are significantly better there than they are here in Northern Ireland.
“I have repeatedly said that our local hospital waiting times would be an absolute scandal if they were occurring anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Yet in the absence of a local Minister or Executive, nothing is being done to tackle them here and there just seems to be a passive acceptance of what is a dreadful situation.
“There is no one simple answer to the resolving the current problems in our emergency departments, but there are a number of contributory factors which medical professionals tell me need to be addressed if we are to lessen the pressure. We have an ageing population with an increasing number of long-term health conditions yet we still don’t have enough beds, we still don’t have enough staff and we still don’t even have enough adequate care packages in the community.
“Our local health service is buckling under the strain of all the pressures and delaying taking measures and decisions to fix them is only making the situation worse. We can’t allow the impasse at Stormont to continue getting in the way of a Minister taking charge of the situation. It’s time Westminster took responsibility for the benefit and safety of local patients.”