Dobson shocked at the waiting list numbers

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A total of 2,133 patients were waiting longer than 52 weeks for a first appointment with a consultant in the Craigavon Area Hospital it has been revealed.

Of those 2,133 patients, 391 had been waiting for longer than a shocking 18 months.

Local Assembly Candidate Jo-Anne Dobson expressed her shock and anger at the figures.

She said: “The official government target is that nobody at all should have to wait longer than 18 weeks for their first appointment with a consultant.

“Yet, through information recently announced to the Ulster Unionist Party, I can reveal that 2,100 were recently waiting longer than 52 weeks to see a consultant in the Craigavon Area Hospital.

“Most shockingly of all, however, is the revelation that of those there were 391 people who had been waiting longer than 78 weeks – or 18 months. That is wholly unacceptable.

“The reason targets exist is because it is very widely accepted that the longer patients are forced to wait for treatment the greater harm they may ultimately come to.

“The crisis facing our local NHS is unprecedented and this has contributed to the fact that the numbers of people waiting for hospital treatment, as well as the lengths of time they are being forced to wait, is now greater than any year in recent history.

“The revelation that so many have been waiting for so long at the Craigavon Area Hospital is further reason why the new Minister after the election will need to reassure the only people keeping it from collapsing entirely - the staff.

“Whilst the DUP’s Simon Hamilton thought it appropriate to treat staff so unfairly that groups such as our nurses were forced to make threats of industrial action, the reality is without their dedication and commitment we wouldn’t have a health service at all. It’s about time that those at the top of the local Department remembered that.”