Ulster Unionist councillor William McCandless has expressed his shock at a rise in waiting times at the Causeway Hospital.
The UUP councillor’s comments come after it was revealed to his Party at Stormont that the total number of people waiting longer than the maximum time of 18 weeks for their first appointment at the Causeway Hospital has jumped from 186 to 2,723, an increase of over 1,300% in only three years.
William McCandless said: “It’s been clear to me for some time that there has been a crisis in waiting times in the Causeway Hospital, but the scale of it which has now been exclusively revealed to the Ulster Unionist Party is shocking.
“The government target is that nobody should have to wait over 18 weeks for their first appointment with a consultant or one of their team, and whilst by the end of 2013 186 people were waiting longer than that length, by the end of 2015 that had ballooned to a massive 2,723 people.
“People of all ages, and in all varying levels of pain and discomfort, have been caught up in the current crisis hitting the wider health service in Northern Ireland. Indeed the number of people affected across the country has gone from 6,923 to a frightening 109,288.
“It is extremely disappointing to know that the public are being so badly let down. Targets exist in the health service because it is widely proven that the longer people have to wait on treatment the greater risk they will come to harm.
“The Minister needs to stop his politicking at Stormont and realise the seriousness of the current situation. I would be happy to host him if he wanted to come to Coleraine and the wider East Londonderry area to meet with some of the 2,700 plus people who have been waiting for so long. In addition I would then call on him to come to the hospital and meet with the staff who are working under such intolerable pressures. Unfortunately however the last 6 months have proven he is more interested in cheap political stunts, and rowing with people like nurses over their modest request for a 1% pay rise, than actually trying to do what is best for patients.”