Waiting Lists

Oral Answers to Questions — Health, Social Services and Public Safety – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 16th November 2015.

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Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP 3:00 pm, 16th November 2015

4. Mr Poots asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to outline the plans that he has to address the pressures on waiting lists. (AQO 9087/11-16)

Photo of Simon Hamilton Simon Hamilton DUP

I have indicated consistently over the past weeks and months that immediate pressures surrounding waiting lists and our emergency departments can be resolved only with the injection of funding as quickly as possible.

The Health and Social Care Board and trusts are already putting in place plans should additional funding become available, and that will, of course, be focused on patients with the greatest clinical need. However, even with additional funding, there are limits to what the system can deliver before the end of the year.

For the longer term, I have asked the board to examine how we can deal with demand and stabilise waiting times to put them on a more sustainable footing over the next few years. That elective care work will set out what areas need to be stabilised, how and when that can be achieved, and what it will cost to get performance back to the nine, nine and 13-week positions that the health service previously achieved. I expect to receive the conclusions of that work soon.

Of course, it is a great frustration to me that we have wasted close to £200 million of taxpayers' money during the last three years in penalties because of the continued failure to implement welfare reform. That has affected thousands of vulnerable people who have not been able to obtain the operations that they desperately need. Every month, we are losing £9·5 million, which could pay for over 1,800 hip operations or 2,100 knee operations.

Photo of Roy Beggs Roy Beggs UUP 3:15 pm, 16th November 2015

That ends the period for listed questions. We will now move on to topical questions.