A&E waiting times prompt feisty exchange in parliament
The Government and the GSD have clashed, in the second consecutive parliamentary session, over average waiting times at the Accident and Emergency department.
In barbed exchanges, the Leader of the Opposition, Daniel Feetham, said the department faced “systemic” problems, drawing an angry reaction from the government.
The exchanges at times even threatened to mirror events of the previous meeting of Parliament when members had to be sternly told off by the Speaker, Adolfo Canepa, as they again debated A&E waiting times.
In that session, a furious row erupted as a result of a misunderstanding in the nature of a question regarding the longest a patient has had to wait to be treated at A&E.
In Wednesday’s question and answer session Mr Feetham, tabled a number of questions regarding average monthly waiting times in the A&E department during the course of 2016 including the same question that sparked the previous row.
He further asked for the numerical and percentage bed occupancy rates of dementia sufferers and long-stay elderly patients.
Average waiting times during the first six months of 2016 ranged from one hour and 12 minutes to one hour and 31 minutes, Health Minister, Neil Costa, said.
In respect of the second half of 2016, Mr Costa pointed out that Mr Feetham has asked that question at the last session.
Nonetheless, he said he was “delighted” that the Opposition Leader had repeated it as he was wrong and it allows him to correct the record.
“The House will recall that I replied that the average time for a patient to be treated at A&E ranged from two hours and four minutes to two hours 28 minutes,” he said.
“In fact, average waiting times were significantly lower, reinforcing even further the absolutely outstanding work carried out by our professionals at A&E.”
Mr Costa said average waiting times for that period actually ranged from one hour and 14 minutes to one hour and 35 minutes.
“I sincerely do believe that we must congratulate the GHA for these average waiting times,” he said.
Mr Feetham said he would add his voice of congratulations to the staff at the GHA.
FULL STORY IN OUR PRINT AND E-EDITIONS