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Department of Health in Northern Ireland announces new regional centres for cataracts and varicose veins

23 Oct 2018

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland has announced it is creating new regional centres for day surgery.  From December, the new prototype elective care centres will undertake routine day surgery for cataracts and treatment of varicose veins.
The Department of Health expects that the development of prototype elective care centres will have a significant impact on the number of patients treated.  For cataracts, they suggest up to 2,000 additional treatments annually and for varicose veins, up to 500 more treatments, will be carried out. 

Responding to the announcement,  Mr Mark Taylor, a consultant surgeon and Director for Northern Ireland at the Royal College of Surgeons, said:

“This initiative should successfully reduce currently long waiting times for patients awaiting routine day surgery for cataracts and the treatment of varicose veins by protecting their treatment from emergency pressures. 
“Although some patients may have to travel a little further for their day surgery, the trade-off is that they will be treated in a specialist centre that will reduce the time they have to wait. We are pleased that the Department of Health has set out a clear trajectory for reducing the current waiting times to 13 weeks. There is also less chance that a patient’s operation will be cancelled as the proposed elective centres will be separate from emergency hospital care.  We welcome this decision.
“Surgery can dramatically improve a person’s quality of life and it is very distressing for patients if they have to wait longer than necessary for treatment, especially if they are in pain or discomfort.  
“Waiting times in Northern Ireland for inpatient and day case treatment are the worst in the UK. Tens of thousands of patients are waiting more than a year for treatment compared to around 3,500 in England. This initiative should help to reduce waiting times in the short and longer term and we look forward to working with the Department of Health to look at broadening out this initiative to other types of surgery.”

The Department of Health expects that that, for patients who have been assessed as requiring treatment for cataracts and varicose veins:
•             By December 2019, no patient will wait longer than 1 year;
•             By December 2020, no patient will wait longer than 26 weeks;
•             By December 2021, all patients will be treated within the ministerial target of 13 weeks.
The prototypes for varicose veins will be based at Lagan Valley Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex; and those for cataracts will operate from three locations - Mid-Ulster Hospital, Downe Hospital, and South Tyrone Hospital.

Notes to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England is a professional membership organisation and registered charity, which exists to advance surgical standards and improve patient care.

For more information, please contact the Press Office:

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