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Neurology waiting lists “a disgrace”

CONCERNS: Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA CONCERNS: Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA
By Conor McParland

ALLIANCE Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has branded the latest neurology waiting lists “a disgrace” and warned they are the latest example of people paying for others’ political irresponsibility.
The South Belfast MLA was speaking after it was revealed the number of people waiting for a first neurology outpatient appointment here has more than doubled in the past four years.
More than 11,000 patients have also been waiting more than one year to be seen.
“The doubling of waiting lists in the past four years is the latest example of the Health Service descending into a two-tier system, with those who can afford it getting quick diagnoses and treatment while others are left to their anxiety about what is wrong for over a year. This is now a dysfunctional system,” she said.
“At the heart of this is the refusal of those with the biggest mandates to take the responsibility for governing which comes with those mandates. They know well a deal has long been available but decisions which are unpopular in the short term will need to be made for the long-term good of the healthcare system and public health.
“We must never stop being shocked by figures such as these, which are unacceptable and show a decline in planning for the future, going back many years. It is time for comprehensive transformation or there simply will not be a public health service for the next generation – and it is time those with the big mandates took responsibility for delivery of it.”
SDLP Deputy Leader Nichola Mallon called the waiting times for a first neurology outpatient appointment “unacceptable”.
The North Belfast MLA said that staff are working tirelessly to manage demand while also coping with the biggest patient recall in history.
“Neurology patients, people living with conditions like Parkinson’s disease, Motor Neurone disease or multiple sclerosis, should not be forced to endure the pain, worry and uncertainty of waiting over a year to be seen,” she said. “That’s the cruel reality for over 11,000 people who understand the seriousness of their condition and desperately want to be seen and treated as quickly as possible.
“These patients and the staff working in neurology units deserve better. Aside from the immense challenge of having almost 20,000 people on the neurology waiting list, doctors and nurses are trying their best to cope with the biggest patient recall in our history. It must feel overwhelming.
“We have had reviews of neurology services before. I have no doubt that the final report will reach similar conclusions with similar recommendations. They cannot be allowed to sit on a shelf gathering dust while real people suffer on hospital waiting lists. This is a scandal and we all have to commit to addressing it.”

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