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100,000 people in NI wait over a year for hospital treatment

18,000 are waiting for inpatient treatment and 88,600 just for an outpatient appointment

Ingrid Torjesen

Friday, 31 August 2018

More than 100,000 people in Northern Ireland have waited more than a year for hospital treatment, official statistics* show.

Of these more than 18,000 patients have waited more than a year for inpatient treatment and almost 88,600 waiting have waited more than a year just to get an outpatient appointment.

Data for the quarter from April to the end of June 2018 show that 21.6% of the patients waiting for inpatient or day case treatment have waited more than 52 weeks to be admitted. This is a rise of 60.6% on the same period last year.

By individual specialty, 5,771 (31.9%) of trauma & orthopaedics patients and 3,356 (18.6%) of general surgery patients have waiting over a year for treatment.

By contrast, in England around 3,500 patients across all specialities have waited more than a year for treatment – or approximately 0.1% of the entire waiting list.

The Royal College of Surgeons said that the long waiting list in Northern Ireland is a symptom of long-standing problems with the health service there which has not been helped by the current political impasse in Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland surpassed Belgium’s record on Tuesday (28 August) for the longest peacetime period without a properly functioning government, with 591 days having passed since the power-sharing executive collapsed.

Mr Mark Taylor, director for Northern Ireland at the Royal College of Surgeons, said that waiting times in Northern Ireland for inpatient and day case treatment are “the worst in the UK”.

“The health service in Northern Ireland is facing significant challenges exacerbated by capacity issues, workforce shortages, uncertainty over long-term budgets and the political stalemate at Stormont. All this comes at a time when health services across the UK are having to adjust to rising demand from an ageing population. People are living for longer with multiple chronic health problems,” he said.

“It is very clear that in order to progress with pace and scale, we need the urgent return of the Northern Ireland Executive. Significant decisions and legalisation are needed to bring about the changes required to address waiting lists and make the NHS sustainable for the future. It is unacceptable for patients to continue to spend many months on waiting lists.”

*Quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics - Position at 30 June 2018. Prepared by the Department of Health, 30 August 2018.

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