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Patients need commitments not ‘sound bites’

26 Apr 2022
Stormont 2

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke is calling on all political parties, ahead of the next Northern Ireland Assembly elections, to commit to achieving Waiting List targets, as they launch their Election Asks document.

The charity have laid out priority recommendations for the new Northern Ireland Assembly and Executive to act upon in their Election Asks document. As well as tackling waiting lists, the organisation is also calling for improvements in the early detection and prevention of heart attacks and stroke, better support for those who are recovering from or managing their conditions and improved air quality and asthma management.

“Waiting lists are a fundamental measurement of whether our health service is being well run or not. All the political parties need to recognise this and agree to be judged on their ability to radically improve the current disastrous situation.”

Neil Johnston, Public Affairs and Policy Manager for Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke laid out the charity’s challenge to the political parties when launching their detailed ‘Election Asks’ document.

“We have a wide range of issues affecting chest, heart and stroke conditions which we would like to see addressed by the next Executive, however, with over 300,000 people on waiting lists it is imperative that the parties move beyond generalised ‘soundbites’.”

“The current Minister has set out a new Elective Care Framework which sets a target of March 2026 for no patient to wait more than 52 weeks for a first outpatient appointment and inpatient day case treatment, or 26 weeks for a diagnostics appointment.”

“We need to know that all parties accept these as targets and that they all agree to be judged on delivery – regardless of who holds the Health Minister position.”

"There are currently over 180,000 patients waiting more than a year for their first outpatient appointment. If that has not ended by March 2026 then not just the Health Minister but every single Minister and every single party in the Executive has failed.”

Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke are particularly concerned about the situation regarding cardiac waiting lists.

“15,000 people are on the waiting list for echocardiography. 7,000 of these patients have been waiting over 26 weeks for this straight forward diagnostic examination.”

“Over 10,000 people are waiting for their first outpatient appointment with a cardiology consultant. Over 3,000 are waiting over a year, and this is up from only 147 as recently as 2016.”

“Nearly 2,500 people are waiting for their first inpatient appointment with a cardiology consultant. Nearly 700 are waiting over a year - in 2016 this was only 6.”

Click here to download our full Election Asks document.