Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey has warned that the decision of each of Northern Ireland’s five Health Trusts to cancel swathes of non-urgent operations was yet another disclosure of the immense challenges currently on the local NHS. The announcement came on the same evening that hospitals across Northern Ireland reported being under serious pressure.
The South Belfast MLA and member of Stormont’s Health Committee said;
“Whilst cancelling operations is not unheard off, every one of our Trusts cancelling so many all at the one time is. It is clearly a desperate attempt by them to get some control of the deteriorating situations across many of our biggest hospitals. I am aware that accident and emergency units also faced huge pressures on Tuesday evening which no doubt only further compounded the problem as increasing emergency admissions directly leads to greater pressure on elective services.
“We have been very fortunate that the weather so far this winter has not as been as bad as previous years, but it would be wrong to be complacent. In addition all it would take is a major winter viral flu and that could easily push some of our hospitals into complete impasse.
“As a direct result of decisions to underfund the most essential components of the health service, our hospitals are being crippled by a debilitating shortage of beds and staff. The Minister and those around him must accept that this is the reality and act upon it. The current situation is untenable with it becoming increasingly unfair on our brilliant but struggling health workers.
“The cancellation of non-urgent elective operations will come as yet another bitter blow to users of our increasingly embattled NHS. Often having waited for months for an appointment before even being given a date for their operation, many will be dismayed by this additional delay.
“I expect that this will be a temporary situation, however it is imperative that new dates for these missed operations are offered without delay.”