Same effort must be applied to tackling waiting lists as Covid says Michelle O’Neill

The same effort must be applied to tackling health service waiting lists as was used against Covid-19, Michelle O’Neill has said.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 6:16 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 6:18 pm

It emerged this week that more than 335,000 people are waiting for a first consultant-led appointment in Northern Ireland.

And more than half of those people have been waiting longer than a year.

Figures from the Department of Health show that the number of people on waiting lists for longer than a year is up more than 20,000 compared with the end of December 2020 (167,806).

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Deputy First Minister, Michelle O'Neill.

Earlier, Health Minister Robin Swann said a new framework was being finalised to tackle waiting lists.

The deputy First Minister said waiting lists were discussed at Thursday’s meeting of the Stormont Executive.

Ms O’Neill said she has asked for a dedicated discussion between ministers.

“That’s something that needs to be fixed and it’s going to require a concerted effort,” she told media in Coalisland, Co Tyrone.

“The same effort that we have applied to Covid needs to now also follow through on waiting lists.

“I have asked for a dedicated discussion at the Executive around what is the plan, what are the targets and how can we work together to achieve that, to deliver that and actually get a better health service working for all of the public.”

Ms O’Neill added that there is a “unity of purpose” between the five parties that make up the Executive around waiting lists.

“All political parties must work together, we must work together with the health service, work together with the trade unions, because the staff are crucially important in our health service, we must come together and have a plan that actually we all can sign up to, something that has targets, something that allows the public to measure progress, because the situation at this moment in time isn’t good enough,” she said.

“That’s going to take the same effort that we applied in terms of working together on Covid, we need to do the same thing now in terms of waiting lists.

“I’ve asked for that dedicated conversation at the Executive and I think that’s really important we get that, and that we actually turn that into a plan that the public can have some confidence in.”