The Ulster Unionist Party has warned that the safety of patients is being put at risk after it was revealed that the total number of people waiting longer than the maximum time for an appointment at the Causeway Hospital has jumped from 186 three years ago, to 2,723 at the end of 2015. This represents an overall increase of over 1,300% in just three years.
Ballymoney Councillor Darryl Wilson said: “The government target is that nobody should have to wait over 18 weeks for their first appointment with a consultant or one of their team, and whilst by the end of 2013 186 people were waiting longer than that length, by the end of 2015 that had ballooned to a massive 2,723 people.
“I have spoken to many people in the wider Ballymoney area who have been caught up in the current crisis and I am disgusted that they are simply being expected to languish on a hospital waiting list, often in pain and often in great distress, simply because the Health Minister can’t get to grips with the crisis affecting the wider NHS. “It is extremely disappointing to know that the people of the Ballymoney area are being so badly let down. Targets exist in the health service because it is widely proven that the longer people have to wait on treatment the greater risk that they will come to harm. I am therefore deeply concerned that local people with serious conditions are not receiving the treatment they deserve.” North Antrim MLA Robin Swann said: “Over the last 2 to 3 years I have been growing increasingly alarmed at the really dire and deteriorating situation across the Northern Health and Social Care Trust. “The number of people being forced to wait for far too long has not only increased dramatically in the Causeway Hospital, but also in the Antrim Area, Moyle and Waveny.
Indeed the number of people affected across the entire country has gone from 6,923 to a frightening 109,288. “The Minister needs to realise the seriousness of the current situation. I along with the rest of my Party colleagues would be happy to host him if he wanted to come to North Antrim and East Londonderry to meet with some of the 2,700 plus people who have been waiting for so long for an appointment in the Causeway. Unfortunately however the last 6 months have proven he is more interested in cheap political stunts, and rowing with people like nurses over their modest request for a 1% pay rise, than actually trying to do what is best for patients.”