Transformation of health and social care system needed - Sheehan
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Pat Sheehan speaking in response to the publication of the Quarterly Waiting Time statistics said:
“The excessive waiting times patients are having to endure are unacceptable. The fact that waiting times are growing longer is extremely worrying for patients and families.
"This is an ongoing challenge facing our health system which has been increased by the lack of investment in Transforming Your Care which was a direct result of Tory cuts. Since the Tories came into the power the North has seen over a £1bn in cuts to the Block Grant
"Only a fundamental transformation of Health and Social Care can address lengthening waiting times and ensure timely, safe and high standards of care for patients.
"Former Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, in response to the Bengoa report set out clearly the way forward for transformation in her “Delivering Together” document. As part of that plan Minister O’Neill published an Elective Care Plan which, as well as recommending an initial investment to address the backlog in waiting times, identified the transformational changes that need to be made in order to tackle excessive waiting times.
"Recent Trust proposals to cut spending on frontline services such as a reduction in routine elective care, closure of beds and reduced accessibility to domiciliary care packages can only exacerbate long waiting times, if implemented.
"Cuts would put increased pressure on our hospital staff, such as nurses, as well as social care staff and those working in primary care and general practice all of whom are already delivering services in challenging circumstances. This would make it increasingly difficult to fill vacancies in the system needed to deliver frontline services.
"We need to transform the health and social care system. Professor Bengoa has made this clear and all political parties accept this. Transformation requires investment-not cuts to existing services-and cannot be achieved while the Tory Government, backed by the DUP, continue to pursue their austerity, cuts agenda.
"The DUP should end their opposition to rights and equality so that we can get local ministers back in place and they should immediately withdraw their support for this austerity-driven Tory government."