Tackling the hospital waiting list crisis is a collective priority for the Executive.
We received an update today from the Department of Health on the current situation and discussed plans to improve outcomes for patients.
When the institutions were restored in January 2020 on the basis of the New Decade, New Approach agreement, all parties in the Executive agreed that transforming our health service was an immediate priority. This included a commitment to address waiting times, which had been building over many years.
The Covid pandemic has compounded pressure on the hospital system and sadly, this has resulted in even more people waiting longer for the care and treatment they need. This is not an acceptable situation to the Executive and all Ministers today reinforced their commitment to supporting the Health Minister and the wider Health and Social Care System in implementing a programme of investment and reform.
It has been necessary that, as an Executive, our focus has been on managing the response to pandemic for the last 18 months, but now is the time to refocus on this crucial issue and take the action needed to reduce waiting times and ensure people get the treatment they need as quickly as possible.
We understand the frustration felt by all those waiting for appointments, particularly those who have been waiting for long periods of time. We know the very real impact this can have on everyday life. We want to give all those waiting an assurance that we will do all we can to improve the situation.
We also put on record our heartfelt gratitude to the HSC workforce for their efforts to provide care and services for patients in the most challenging circumstances.
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