A MID-ULSTER MLA says her Moneymore constituency office has been inundated with harrowing stories of over-stressed health-care staff, patients waiting over 40 hours in A&E and under-resourced facilities.
UUP assembly member Sandra Overend has described how Mid-Ulster constituents have been particularly affected by mounting NHS failures in Trusts across the province.
The Assembly woman made her comments just weeks after it was revealed a pensioner formerly from Cookstown died in a 22 hour trolley wait at the Royal Victoria Hospital. He has since been named locally as Thomas (Tim) Quinn, formerly of Moveagh.
Mr Quinn had gone to the hospital in the early hours of Monday, March 5th suffering from chest pains. He had been diagnosed with motor neuron disease just a year-and-a-half earlier.
“A few hours after his partner had left the hospital, where Mr Quinn was being kept on a trolley, she phoned staff to check on his condition and was told he had died.
After public outrage over Mr Quinn’s death, Health Minister Edwin Poots has announced the establishment of an Action Group to drive down Emergency waiting times.
Mrs Overend, who has revealed she has dealt with similar harrowing stories over the last year, said that if the Health Minister’s Action Group is to work, it must engage plans are to work, with “all elements” of the Health and Social Care Departments.
“Since taking office as an elected member of the Northern Ireland Assembly I have been inundated with reports, letters and telephone calls from my Mid-Ulster constituents seeking help with various health related issues.
“Accounts of A&E waiting times up to 40 hours, elderly patients waiting unattended, over-stressed nursing staff, and under-resourced facilities, paint a harrowing portrait of our current health services.
“Whilst I welcome the Health Minister’s recent plans to reduce waiting times in A&E and establish an action group to address the situation,
“I would caution him to ensure that this action group does as intended. It must take action to pro actively engage with all elements of the Health and Social Departments and the Trusts and work to ensure that positive solutions are implemented sooner rather than later.
She added: “As the Unionist MLA for Mid-Ulster I have been working to provide a comprehensive understanding of the problems that currently exist such as those at Antrim Area Hospital which serves a significant number of my constituents. I have met with A&E staff and am in frequent communication with the Trust and the Health Minister.
“Neither I, nor my UUP colleagues, are prepared to rest until a more satisfactory system is introduced and fully operational.”