'Something is not right' - Stormont health committee launch enquiry into 'scandalous' Northern Ireland health waiting lists

The Stormont health committee has agreed to a cross-party enquiry into the crisis concerning health service waiting lists in Northern Ireland.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 10:52 am

On Thursday morning, the Department of Health (DoH) published quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case and Outpatient Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position on March 31, 2021.

One key statistics showed atotal of 335,042 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 3.7% (11,868) more than at December 31, 2020 (323,174) and 9.1% (27,976) more than at March 31, 2020 (307,066).

The enquiry was proposed by Alliance Party health committee member and MLA, Paula Bradshaw and was seconded by deputy chair of the health committee and DUP MLA, Pam Cameron.

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The health care waiting lists have been described as "horrific" and "scandalous".

The committee also agreed to stipulate in writing the need for the Northern Ireland Executive and for all political parties to work together to address the waiting list crisis.

"I would like to propose we go forward with a committee enquiry," said Paula Bradshaw.

"We are spending approximately £6b a year on our health service and we are hearing from the frontline healthcare workers about the pressures and the issues but I want to drill back down a few layers to find out why and how we are in such a mess - there are the same pressures down south, there are the same pressures in Great Britain - why have we got into such a mess here?," she added.

Ms. Bradshaw's proposal was seconded by Pam Cameron.

"We all have constituents who are waiting in pain and potentially dying - it is not acceptable.

"Something is not right and I think we need to get to the nub of what the issues are," she said.

Sinn Fein MLA and health committee member, Carál Ní Chuilín, said she would support the proposal.

"I have no issue with any of this but anyone listening or watching this is going to hear about another process.

"There have been systemic inequalities in health for a long time and waiting lists have been one of the biggest challenges any health minister has had to take."

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