Former Ulster Unionist Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has accused Simon Hamilton of ‘unforgivable inaction’ as the number of people on waiting lists has reached almost 400,000.
The South Belfast MLA said:
“This is an outrageous situation. Almost 400,000 people are waiting for important medical tests. Some can afford to wait, but for those people with serious illnesses or those having to endure unimaginable pain – they are badly being let down.
“Increased waiting times for assessment will inevitably lead to delayed diagnosis of serious or life-threatening conditions and this in reality means there will be a much reduced likelihood of a successful outcome.
“Whilst I welcome the recent allocation of £40m emergency funding through the monitoring round, the Minister’s premature and exaggerated claims of ‘kick starting’ the local health service need to be tempered given the fact that in the previous financial year his Department received over £80m additional funding and the situation only continued to get worse.
“Simon Hamilton needs to get a grip of the current spiralling situation. A number of months ago I urged him to develop an emergency plan to tackle the current crisis in waiting times. A coherent, targeted and resourced plan is absolutely 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. Unfortunately however, aside from it being confirmed that a plan has since been developed, Simon Hamilton has done absolutely nothing to implement it. This dithering at such a time of crisis is unforgivable. ”