DUP has abandoned patients
At election time politicians regularly say that having an effective and efficient health service is one of their main priorities. For the DUP it seems that claim is empty rhetoric.
Instead of fulfilling his Executive responsibility to tackle the problems facing the Department of Health, former minister Simon Hamilton resigned in the latest development in the increasingly farcical electoral battle between the UUP and DUP.
But for the patients and others who depend on the health service, it is not farcical - it is a calamity.
The DUP has serious questions to answer on its decision to abandon its ministerial responsibilities, particularly in terms of health.
The now-former Health Minister resigned from his post because of a contrived crisis that owes more to a bitter electoral contest between the unionist parties.
In doing so, he abandoned his obligations. He has left a real crisis in our hospitals, our doctors' surgeries, our care homes and in the homes of patients and those waiting on medical care across the north.
He has left the Department of Health without the ability to make key decisions at a time when the system is already under immense pressure.
The medical care of those most in need should not be held to ransom because of the internal bickering of the unionist parties.
As chair of the Assembly's health committee, I have a responsibility to hold the Health Minister to account for the decisions taken on behalf of his department.
I am committed to working to improve the health system, to tackling health inequalities and to improving health outcomes for everyone.
By contrast, Simon Hamilton has let patients and their families down through the decision of the DUP to put party politics ahead of the needs of the community.
Worse than that, patients' lives have been put at risk for petty party politics.
We need to see a Health Minister at their desk, working for all the people of their society, rather than engaging in soundbites suggesting that the health service be funded by taking money from the pockets of some of the most vulnerable people.
- Maeve McLaughlin MLA is chair of the Assembly's health committee