Armstrong questions if plan in place to tackle waiting lists

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has suggested Health Trusts across Northern Ireland are out of step with top civil servants, after she received conflicting reports over steps currently being taken to reduce waiting times.

The MLA for Strangford made the claims after she recently contacted the South Eastern Trust on behalf of a constituent in relation to waiting times for dental treatment, only to be informed “this Trust, and indeed all Trusts in Northern Ireland, has limited capacity to meet the Department’s waiting time targets” – a comment in direct opposition to a meeting with top health civil servants, were it was revealed £30 million had been set aside to tackle waiting lists.

“Either the Trusts aren’t being kept up to date with how budgets are to be spent, or there is some serious lack of awareness when it comes to the needed investment to reduce waiting times,” said Kellie Armstrong MLA.

“Either way, there are serious questions to answer. And if they are being kept up to date, why is there no monitoring programme in place to ensure the money is being allocated correctly.

In his letter to me, South Eastern Chief Executive Hugh McCaughey stressed there is “Currently no agreed plan as to how this can be achieved”, yet I had already been told that £30 million will be set aside out of this year’s Health Reform Budget to tackle this growing problem.

“Growing waiting lists are a problem we should all be concerned about. The Health Service needs urgent reform and a Minister in place to take this process forward. As can been seen from my own experience, too many people taking decisions on their own is not helping anyone.”

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