Commenting on the latest waiting time statistics, Health Minister Robin Swann today said 'we can and must put this right'.
Mr Swann stated:
“Northern Ireland’s hospital waiting times are quite simply appalling. Far too many people are waiting far too long for assessment and treatment. Behind the statistics are many thousands of our citizens facing unending pain and worry.
“Let me make this statement of intent as Health Minister – we can and must put this right. The starting point is spelt out in New Decade New Approach – that no one waiting over a year at 30 September 2019 for outpatient or inpatient assessment/treatment will still be on a waiting list by March 2021. This will require in the region of £50m as part of the 2020/21 health budget.
“It is well documented that our health service currently does not have the capacity to meet current demand, let alone tackle the waiting list backlog. Meeting the New Decade, New Approach commitment will therefore require use of capacity in the independent sector. Our options will include the use of providers from Great Britain – both NHS and independent sector – as well as in the Irish Republic. The New Decade, New Approach commitment should be seen as just a first step in dealing with the waiting list crisis.
“Sustained additional investment over future years will be needed. That means investment not just on dealing with waiting list backlogs but also increasing the system’s in-house capacity to provide assessment and treatment. This will include building our health and social care workforce and reshaping the way we provide services as part of the transformation process.”