Ulster Unionist MLA Michael McGimpsey has warned that the situation in hospitals across Northern Ireland is growing increasingly dire. The former Health Minister was speaking after the Executive agreed the budget for 2016/17.
Mr McGimpsey said:
“On the same day that the Finance Minister Arlene Foster was congratulating herself for setting a balanced budget for next year I would remind her that the last 18-24 months have seen a total collapse of even the most routine health waiting targets and performance indicators. The fact that recent figures confirmed nearly 400,000 people across Northern Ireland are waiting on treatment, a hospital appointment or a diagnostic test, equivalent to more than one in five of the entire Northern Ireland population, should be enough to shame this Executive into action.
“I am sure the Health Minister Simon Hamilton does not need to be reminded that the longer people are forced to wait for either a diagnosis or treatment, the more harm they are likely to come to. There is no greater issue facing the Executive right now than the horrendous situation in our hospitals and the inexcusable stress that this is putting on patients and staff.
“It is often said that how our A&Es are performing is a barometer for the wider state of the NHS. Whilst the target is to treat or admit 95% of attendees within 4 hours, last month only 71.8% were seen within this time. Worryingly this represented a further deterioration – down from 77.4% – on the year before. This clearly demonstrates that the crisis facing our hospitals is continuing to deepen.
“I would now urge the Executive to collectively recognise the severity of the problem. Whilst I welcome the additional allocation of health funding, there has been immense harm caused over recent years and unfortunately the budget settlement does nothing to address this. In addition, given that the increase in funding falls so far short of the rate at which costs in our hospitals are rising, I fear that unless there is a fundamental change in attitude at Ministerial level the situation is only going to get worse.”