Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Waiting list plans - a disaster waiting to happen

4 July, 2005

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA has described the plans announced this morning by direct rule Health Minster Shaun Woodward as a disaster waiting to happen.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The plan to take resources away from hospitals that fail to meet waiting list targets is a disaster waiting to happen. The net result will be that hospitals that are already struggling will have services further eroded. It will mean hospital closures.

"A quick fix solution is a mistake. We need to fill staff vacancies and we need to begin to train more medical staff right across the health care spectrum.

"The only way that there will be progress is if staff shortages are addressed, particularly the unacceptable level of consultant shortages. The recruitment of over one hundred hospital consultants across the entire range of specialist disciplines within the North's health service must become an urgent priority action for NIO minister, Shaun Woodward.

"Earlier this year, I challenged former NIO health minister, Angela Smith, to take action to fill the 119 vacancies for hospital consultants which existed in 17 out of 18 Trusts. That scandalously high level of vacancies has unquestionably contributed to unnecessary stress and additional burdens on existing medical staff, and is a major contributory factor in the numbers of patient waiting for treatment.

"I have no doubt that the recruitment and placement of over 100 hospital consultants in order to fill those existing vacancies would have a major and immediate positive impact upon the provision and delivery of heath service treatment for increased numbers of patients across the entire range of medical specialities.

"The minister must announce actions that ensures additional funding being made available to Trusts to enable them to fill these vacancies, and should also include an immediate ending of any freeze which the Department may have imposed upon Trusts in relation to the release of recruitment and development funding." ENDS

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