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Tackling waiting lists needs same urgency and focus as handling pandemic, says Bradshaw

Tackling rising waiting lists in Northern Ireland needs to receive the same sense of urgency and focus as the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said.

Ms Bradshaw was speaking after the publication of the latest quarterly waiting lists statistics from the Department of Health. They showed waiting times has risen sharply, with the number of people waiting to see a consultant going up by 6.3 per cent, 79.1 per cent of patients waiting more than nine weeks for a first appointment with a consultant, up over five per cent and around 38 per cent waiting more than 52 weeks, up around four per cent.

“Two weeks ago, the Health Minister advised MLAs in the Assembly Chamber within a fortnight he would be publishing his comprehensive recovery plan for the phasing of the reintroduction of normal health services,” said South Belfast MLA Ms Bradshaw.

“Two weeks on, this is not evident and given these figures today, the need for the urgent attention to the issue of tackling waiting lists is all the more important.

“The preparation and handling of the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the health and social care service can adapt and re-configure in very quick time to meet pressures. We need to see this same sense of urgency and focus for the many thousands of people who are awaiting appointments, treatment and care. Never has the health transformation agenda been more pressing.”