Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Tuesday 12 November 2013

During topical questions, the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots outlined what actions his department is taking to improve survival rates from heart attacks.
The Belfast percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital has been launched and will cover 75% of Northern Ireland's population. The other unit will be in Altnagelvin Hospital and will be in place from next summer and will cover the rest of Northern Ireland.

When asked by Anna Lo for an assurance that 5 North, the medical assessment unit in Belfast City Hospital, will remain open and be further developed, the Minister had this to say:

"I have not heard anything to suggest that there is any threat to the medical assessment unit...but, as far as I am concerned, the medical assessment unit is working well and, to the best of my knowledge, that will continue to be the case."

During Question Time the Minister stated:
The number waiting for an outpatient appointment...has been cut by 4,182 since June 2011, with excess waits reduced by 12,277.
The number waiting for an inpatient admission is down by 7,361 compared with what it was in June 2011, with excess waits reduced by 5,936.
When challenged by Michaela Boyle on how he will reduce waiting times for an occupational therapist referral visit in the Western Health and Social Care Trust area, which is currently approximately 18 weeks the Minister stated:
"the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) has provided non-recurring funding to the Western Trust, which is expected to ensure that the current waiting time for assessment is reduced and that, by March 2014, no patient will have been waiting more than nine weeks for assessment."
Chris Lyttle asked the Minister for an update on making a decision on the future of paediatric cardiac surgery services for Belfast. Edwin Poots revealed that consideration was still ongoing in relation to a two-centre model that would provide paediatric cardiac surgery services in Belfast and Dublin. The Minister also stated that the new children’s hospital has been sized to accommodate children’s heart services, and it is the intention that all paediatric cardiology services currently provided in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children will be provided in the new children’s hospital.

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