Former Ulster Unionist Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey MLA, has said the revelation that an emergency plan is finally being prepared to tackle the current crisis in waiting times, but that it cannot proceed until the Northern Ireland Executive meets to approve it, shows that Simon Hamilton’s actions and repeat resignations are now having a real and detrimental impact on the safety of patients.
Michael McGimpsey said:
“The most recent publication of waiting times revealed that 373,000 people, or 20% of the entire Northern Ireland population, are waiting on a hospital appointment, a diagnostic test or treatment at hospital. Other core services such as our cancer treatments are facing appalling delays and it is widely accepted that patients are now coming to harm.
“Over the last number of weeks I have been calling for the creation of an emergency plan to tackle the deteriorating situation right across the health service. A logical and resourced plan is needed to help the most ill and the most vulnerable people who are likely to come to the most harm as a result of the crisis.
“I was glad when on Wednesday the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, was able to tell me that such a plan was now being produced. Any plan will require political sign-off.
“Disgracefully however, because Simon Hamilton only appears in the Department for an afternoon a week, this emergency plan cannot actually get the Ministerial and Executive sign-off that it requires.
“Simon Hamilton needs to get his act together and get back into office to sign-off on this plan immediately. Every day the DUP engage in acts of political posturing, the worse the current situation is getting and the more delayed this emergency plan will be. In the meantime patients are left paying the price.”