Alan Chambers MLA responds to the NI Audit Office's Report on Tackling Waiting Lists

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Alan Chambers MLA responds to the NI Audit Office's Report on Tackling Waiting Lists

Ulster Unionist Health spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA said, “The publication of the NIAO report is yet another stark illustration of the pressures currently weighing down on our local health service. Far too many patients right across Northern Ireland have been waiting for far too long for treatment, and shamefully, where there were previously grounds for real optimism, that has all since evaporated.

“We have some of the worst hospital waiting times literally anywhere in the world, and instead of the issue receiving close oversight and the necessary political intervention, we are limping on without a Government, and more and more patients are increasingly coming to real physical and mental harm.

“As picked up by the Audit Office report, the Department of Health has also since been forced to acknowledge that the major five-year plan to tackle waiting lists published by Robin Swann in 2021 will shamefully no longer be deliverable due to the political and associated budgetary impasse that has occurred since.

“The Elective Care Framework had 55 clear action points, and as soon as it was published, it was endorsed by all Executive Parties, and cross-party commitments were made to allocate the funding it required. Yet within less than a year of it being published, the Executive collapsed, and deadlines to set an overall multi-year Budget were missed. The Audit Office is clear that the current trajectory is totally unsuitable and unsustainable.

“Every day that passes without a functioning Executive and a strategic multi-year funding plan in place, the more harm that patients and staff are forced to endure.  Importantly, the longer the current impasse lasts, the greater the scale of the huge problems for the future are being stored up. That is why we need an Executive and local Minister’s in post now.”