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Increase in A&E waiting times begs the question – Why shut A&E’s?

29 June, 2010 - by Michelle O'Neill


Sinn Féin MLA for Mid Ulster and health spokesperson Michelle O’Neill has stated that the increase waiting times for A&E departments highlights that the decision to close many A&E departments is not the way forward and that the Health Minister must now re-evaluate this policy.


Speaking today Ms O’Neill said:


“The latest figures released show that waiting time targtes are not being met in relation to A&E departments with many patients waiting over 12 hours to be seen. This is despite the Health Minster stating that targets must be met by the health trusts.


“The Health Ministers position is one of a conundrum to most people. On one hand he is saying that targets must bemet yet on the other he has presided over the closure of several A&E departments including Mid Ulster and Whiteabbey, with a focus now being placed on the future of the Mater Hospital’s A&E in Belfast.


“This begs a very obvious question, why close A&E departments if there is an increasing demands for these services?


“While health staff are doing an excellent job addressing peoples needs, actually having the majority of patients seen within a four hour period, they are coming under severe pressure with increased numbers attending A&E alongside ever depleting resources.


“The Health Minster must come forward and say how he will square this circle. He cannot hide behind the mantra that he needs more money. All departments are under pressure but savings can be made as opposed to cuts, many of which Sinn Féin have placed in front of the Minster and his officials at meetings and in the Health Committee.


“We must now see an immediate re-evaluation by the Health Minister of decisions to close A&E’s and deplete front line services. To do nothing but issue statements saying taregts must be met is a Pontius Pilate move on behalf of the Minister. He must now take the responsibilties he is charged with.”

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