Political Parties should end towering hypocrisy on waiting lists - Beattie

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Political Parties should end towering hypocrisy on waiting lists - Beattie

Ulster Unionist Party leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has called on other political parties and candidates to end their increasingly fabricated and baseless claims that they are committed to tackling Northern Ireland’s waiting times position.


Mr. Beattie said.

“In recent months, but especially in the period from the UK General election has been called, growing numbers of political party leaders and now candidates have been going to great efforts to declare how committed they are to tackling Northern Ireland’s health waiting lists.


“Yet the actions of their Parties, in relation to the cut in the health budget, speak much louder and with more truth than the often-flippant regard that many are now paying to the issue.


“In the run-up to the 2024/25 budget process the Ulster Unionist Health Minister submitted a bid of just under £135m that could have been spent treating tens of thousands of patients right across Northern Ireland. It proposed a major focus on those outpatients who have been waiting for the longest, often over 3 or 4 years each, running a series of one-stop shop mega-clinics, as well as funding our GPs to deliver greater levels of elective care. In addition, it also suggested the reinstatement of a reimbursement scheme – similar to the previous hugely popular cross-border scheme – in which patients could have travelled outside of Northern Ireland and claimed some of the costs back.


“The reinstatement of a reimbursement scheme, in particular, was a policy in which every Party, without exception, has shamelessly questioned the Department of Health on in recent months. Yet when the prospect of such a scheme was put to the other Executive Parties all – with the exception of the Ulster Unionist Party – voted to reject the funding bid. It is a towering hypocrisy.


“Overall tackling these waiting times is not going to be a quick or easy fix. It will require sustainable and recurrent funding, workforce development and system-wide transformation. But there have been clear and tangible opportunities in recent weeks and months for Executive Parties to have made a significant dent in the number of people waiting.


“Parties had a choice, and they chose not to fund the costed and targeted waiting times initiative. So, claims in manifestos, from candidates, and from Party Leaders that they are committed to taking action to address the situation simply do not stand up to scrutiny.”