The MLA for Strangford was speaking after the Health Minister announced his department will carry out a review into the future of the service in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Kieran McCarthy said: “This issue needs urgent attention and I welcomed the review announced by the Minister today.
“I support an all-Island approach with some level of service in Belfast. I know that this will be the most difficult option to achieve, so we do not underestimate the challenge that is poses.
“While today is a welcome development, I am disappointed that it has taken the Health Minister over 12 months to announce that a review will be carried out. Many will have believed this review was already underway and I have to question why this could not have been announced any time in the past year. What caused such a delay?
“If it has taken him 12 months to announce a review that will last a further six months, I have to question where this issue comes in his list of priorities.
“It has been clear for a number of years that the current services at Belfast would no longer be sustainable, so why did the Health Service not put into place a term succession plan when this became apparent? The previous Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, also has questions to answer why he did act when he was in power to ensure the sustainability of these services.
“Following the retirement of Belfast’s lead surgeon, the Minister must ensure that the interim arrangements are adequate.”