East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs has highlighted the poor waiting times for patients in Antrim Area Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Unit.
In an Assembly debate he said that one third of patients were not seen within the set four-hour target.
Addressing the Health Minister Edwin Poots, Mr Beggs said: “How can the minister be confident we are seeing something more significant than the normal seasonal adjustment as we approach the summer months? How can he be sure that we are seeing significant improvement and that changes to health care will help reduce waiting times?”
The Health Minister said there could be “no assurances” that A&E waiting times would meet targets.
He said, “Our hospitals were under an awful lot of pressure, not so much in the early part of the winter but later. We have not quite come to an understanding of what has caused this.”
“Or what the real problem has been, but we are very clear that there has been a significant increase in the number of people who have had to be admitted and the number of people who have been attending.”
Speaking later, Mr Beggs added: “There were headlines in the national newspapers recently about a crisis in A&E waiting times in England and Wales.
“Yet the figures there remain far better than in Northern Ireland. We are nowhere near the NHS target that 95% of patients should be seen at A&E within four hours. I see nothing in Minister Poots’ performances at Stormont that he either understands the full extent of the problems here, or that he has a plan to tackle it.”