SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has called for urgent action to address the failure of the Health Service to meet patient demand for treatment. The Mid Ulster MLA was speaking after the Western Trust admitted in correspondence that a lack of resources meant they were unable to see or treat all patients referred to the Trust in a number of key specialties, including orthopaedics, general surgery, gastroenterology, pain management and rheumatology.
Mr McGlone said, “It is increasingly clear that there is a crisis in our Health Service that requires urgent action.
“I recently contacted the Western Trust on behalf of a constituent who had been informed that they would have to wait for over 3 years for a hip operation, despite being in considerable pain and discomfort.
“In their response the Trust admitted that they do not have the resources to meet the demand from referrals in a number of key specialties, including orthopaedics, general surgery, gastroenterology, pain management and rheumatology. As a result they have said that they are unable to see or treat all patients referred to the Trust.
“The only alternative the Trust have been able to suggest is that my constituent applies for funding under the EU Cross Border Healthcare and Patient Mobility Directive for treatment in Santry, Dublin.
“While I am in favour of greater co-operation on an all-island basis, this funding is only on an ad hoc basis, and it is only available because we are currently a member of the EU – post-Brexit it will no longer be an option.
“It is increasing clear that there is a crisis in our Health Service, and it affects all Trusts.
“There is a clear need for urgent action to address the inability of the Health Trusts to meet the current demand for patient assessment, and for subsequent medical treatment.
“In the continued absence of a functioning Executive, the Permanent Secretary at the Department for Health must intervene and begin the process to implement the necessary reforms to make the Health Service fit for purpose.
“The required funding must also be made available to ensure that the Health Trusts have the capacity to see and treat all patients referred to them within a reasonable time.
“That is not the case at present, and that is not acceptable from a public health service.”