West Tyrone Ulster Unionist Westminster candidate, Alicia Clarke, has called on Sinn Fein to explain why they continue to block an Executive being formed which could take the emergency measures needed to tackle the latest Hospital waiting times crisis.

Alicia Clarke, the Ulster Unionist Party candidate in June’s General Election, said “These latest waiting times show that a record number of patients across Northern Ireland languishing on hospital waiting lists whilst waiting list numbers continue to spiral out of control.

“It is outrageous that at the end of March this year, 53,000 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment. Many thousands desperately waiting news of tests or diagnosis together with many others in debilitating pain and discomfort awaiting treatment over a long period of time.

“The length of time that some of the patients have been forced to wait is shamefully shocking. No words can describe just how unacceptable it is that 53,000 people have been waiting more than 52 weeks for their first appointment.

“Appointment targets exist because the longer patients are forced to wait for treatment the greater harm they may ultimately come to. This leaves it all the more frightening when we hear of increasing numbers being forced to linger on a waiting list for longer than a year. How often are we told that early medical intervention assists recovery and can lead to less lives being lost.

“Only weeks before the Sinn Fein inspired March Assembly Election Michelle O’Neill, the then Health Minister, accepted that current waiting lists were unacceptable. In a callous political stunt she then announced that she would spend £31m tackling them knowing full well that she would not have the ability to spend the money. Now, when Sinn Fein do have the opportunity to join an Executive and secure these funds, they hardly mention the critical situation in our local health service.”

Alicia Clarke concluded by adding “Barely a day passes without Sinn Fein representatives in the Republic of Ireland warning of one problem or another in their health service whilst here in Northern Ireland, where we are genuinely in the midst of an unprecedented crisis, Sinn Fein’s ‘northern leader’ and our previous Health Minister, appears content to put her own Party’s politicking ahead of the welfare of local patients. It is well past the time that Michelle O’Neill should wise-up and realise that people are coming to harm. As a former Health Minister there can be absolutely no doubt that she knows exactly the impact the current impasse is having on patients throughout Northern Ireland and from all sections of our community.”

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