Northern Ireland

DUP's Foster criticises O'Neill's waiting list plans

DUP leader Arlene Foster has responded to Michelle O'Neill's proposals Image copyright PA
Image caption DUP leader Arlene Foster was scathing about Michelle O'Neill's proposals

Plans by the health minister to tackle hospital waiting lists have been criticised by the DUP leader Arlene Foster.

Earlier this week, Michelle O'Neill said more than £31m was required to treat patients who have been waiting for more than a year.

She wrote to party leaders for their response.

In a letter, Mrs Foster said the proposals should "not have been rushed out in the mouth of an election".

She also said the political priority of Sinn Féin had taken precedence over the interests of those most in need of the health service.

Image caption Mrs O'Neill said she believed the plans were achievable

The former first minister said Mrs O'Neill's plans should be afforded "more detailed consideration", adding that the allocation of £31m proposed by Mrs O'Neill was "woefully inadequate in relation to the needs of the health service".

Mrs O'Neill said she was confident the money would be agreed after the election on 2 March.

She told BBC News NI she believed the plans were achievable.

Mrs Foster also said that in the event of a political impasse after the election, the budget would by set by a Conservative direct rule minister, rather than a permanent secretary.

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