Audit on missed health targets flags need for immediate action, says Mark Durkan

Mark H. Durkan.
Mark H. Durkan.

Foyle MLA, Mark H. Durkan, has called for immediate action after a Northern Ireland Audit Office report found health authorities across the North, including the Western Trust, were achieving only a small proportion of key waiting time targets and forecast that they would struggle to meet future targets.

The SDLP health spokesman claimed the health service was no longer ‘fit for purpose’ after the Auditor Kieran Donnelly reported that no Trust had achieved any of their outpatient and accident and emergency targets between 2014/15 to 2016/17.

Mr. Donnelly said: “Since we last reported on 2012/13 and 2013/14, performance in respect of key waiting time targets has clearly been very

disappointing.

“It is particularly concerning that targets for inpatient and outpatient care are still not being met, despite having been significantly reduced from 2014/15.”

Reacting, Mr. Durkan said: “This report is further evidence of the glaring need for transformation within our health service; the writing is on the wall and people are suffering as a result of our crumbling health sector.

“The system is not merely at breaking point, it is broken, and unable to meet the needs of the people. For example, all Trusts within the North

failed to hit any waiting time targets this year for A&E, routine operations and cancer treatment- despite the fact that these targets were lowered to accommodate the capacity gap.

“We have, unfortunately, become so accustomed to hearing about failures of government or lack thereof, but we cannot allow this to become the new ‘normal’.

“The findings of this report are reflective of the systemic failures of previous executives and years of disastrous workforce planning.

“These ‘serious and escalating’ circumstances were not unforeseen, the need to transform service delivery and solve the historic capacity issues by training and recruiting health specialists, is something the SDLP have consistently lobbied for.”