Lagan Valley Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate Councillor Jenny Palmer has called on the health department to release more individual community care packages locally.
The Lisburn and Castlereagh City Councillor said the move would ease pressure on acute beds in the Lagan Valley hospital and indeed other hospitals used by constituents.
Mrs Palmer said that ultimately it was one of the practical ways to tackle the waiting list crisis in the health service.
“More of these individual care packages are needed for constituents to relieve the pressure on acute beds in Lisburn’s Lagan Valley hospital and in other hospitals which our Lagan Valley constituents use,” she said.
“The individual care packages work by assessing the specific needs which a patient would require after receiving their operation or treatment in an acute hospital.
“The care packages can be designed so that these needs are met by the person being cared for in their own home, or in a nearby nursing home. The cost would be paid for by the health service.
“Practically, it means that people can get back into their own communities and be cared for in those communities rather than occupying hospital beds over a number of weeks.
“Caring for people in the community itself leads to much-needed acute hospital beds being made available for future patients, especially those on the waiting lists.
“I call on the health minister to speed up the process of delivery of these individual packages to Lagan Valley, thereby reducing the waiting lists in the constituency.
“The next 12 months could well be a ‘make or break’ year for our health service in realistically getting to grips with the spiralling waiting lists and the equally worrying situation of bed blocking.”