‘Hospital cancellations lead to further pressure’ - Sheehan
Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Pat Sheehan MLA has warned that suspending elective care procedures will lead to longer waits for patients and could put pressure on other parts of the health and social care system.
The West Belfast MLA was commenting after it emerged that operations for patients suffering from ear, nose and throat-related illnesses have been cancelled in the Belfast health trust area over the past six weeks due to a shortage of specialist nurses,
He commented: "The suspension of ear, nose and throat (ENT) elective surgery will lead to patients in Belfast facing a further wait for routine ENT procedures.
"Longer waits can mean added pressures on other parts of the system as patients seek support for managing their conditions, through GP services for example.
"While increased pressures on staff resources over the winter months occur annually the issue of nurse shortages is an ongoing problem that can and needs to be addressed to ensure there is capacity in the system to deliver these important services.
"Nurse retention and recruitment initiatives by the Department of Health need to deliver in order to address these workforce capacity issues in the short-term.
"A workforce strategy is also needed to develop a sustainable and well supported nurse workforce moving forward.
"Excessive waiting times for patients are not acceptable and need to be addressed through the actions set out in Michelle O'Neill's 'Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together' transformation plan and the subsequent Elective Care Plan."