Call for updated plan to tackle waiting list crisis

Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds led a DUP call today for an updated plan to tackle the waiting list crisis.

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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Proposing a motion in the Assembly, Mrs Dodds said, “Every week we are meeting with constituents who are ill, in pain and on a waiting list. They have lost hope and faith in the very NHS which was meant to look after them from the ‘cradle to the grave’.

Figures from the NI Audit Office report of October 2023 make for stark reading, with no formal waiting time targets met since 2014. More than twice the proportion of our population in Northern Ireland are on a waiting list compared to England. Stabilising this fundamental public service will require significant investment in funds, but funding is not the only solution. We hope that highlighting these issues will lend weight to the arguments that will be put within the Executive for resources to tackle the problem.

Our staff in the NHS face relentless pressure but do amazing work every day. We must support them to implement solutions that will benefit everyone.

We need to be realistic about the extent of progress our system in its current form can achieve. We need to find partners who can assist us and we need to look beyond our usual local providers. The small independent sector will have a role to play, but it is dwarfed by the volume of additional capacity required. There are non-profit organisations from the United States for example which operate internationally, and which already partner in other areas to deliver treatments.

Northern Ireland already has the highest spend per capita of all the UK. We must maximise the outcomes from additional investment. We want to see services and waiting lists organised on a regional Northern Ireland-wide basis to permit same-time access regardless of where anyone lives. This could include regional endoscopy and rapid diagnostic centres for all of Northern Ireland. Eye-wateringly expensive equipment should not simply be switched off and shut up from 5pm.

To start making a real difference rather than simply treading water we need to look at solutions in a fundamentally different way. That will require the Department of Health and Executive to be bolder and more imaginative than before. It will also require additional funding.”

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