Alliance Party Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has cautioned that the £30 million allocation to tackle waiting times is insufficient without political institutions to provide direction and oversight – and warned also that the money will be taken from other aspects of transformation.
The South Belfast MLA stated: “On the face of it, an allocation of £30 million extra to tackle waiting times will bring some relief to many people, and that is a good thing.
“Nevertheless, the extra allocation was not meant to tackle existing problems with the system, so in effect this money is being taken from other aspects of transformation. Although the Bengoa Report did speak of stabilising aspects of the existing system, including waiting lists, the extra allocation was supposedly assigned to the transformation of that system.
“More importantly still, it has been clear now in countless reviews going back over a decade that money alone, especially when focused on existing systems, will not solve the range of problems which exist across Health and Social Care. What is required is a reform process which sees a fundamental re-allocation of priorities towards ensuring that people get the right information, treatment and medicine immediately upon entering the system, not months or years down the line after referrals.
“Although I am content with the direction of travel of the transformation currently, there is a very real concern that the entire programme is being carried out without any democratic oversight. This is another reason that we need functioning political institutions urgently – and if the big parties are unwilling to provide the Health Minister that they are supposed to take responsibility for providing, we at least need to have some means of democratic scrutiny to ensure the process of transformation is being adequately resourced.”