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Northern Ireland one year waits for treatment skyrocketing

30 Nov 2017

New statistics released this morning show the number of patients waiting more than one year for treatment in Northern Ireland continue to rise at an alarming rate. At 30 September 2017 more than 73,000 patients were waiting over a year for their first outpatient appointment alone – 27% of all patients and an increase of 9,000 patients since the last quarter. In addition, 13,176 patients (17.5% of the total) were waiting more than a year for their inpatient or day case treatment at 30 September 2017. This has also increased by just under 2,000 patients since the previous quarter (30 June 2017).

Unlike England, which measures waiting times from the moment a patient is referred to when they are treated, Northern Ireland measures waits in two stages: waits for first outpatient appointment and then the wait for inpatient or day case treatment. In England, the number of patients waiting over a year from referral to treatment was 1,778 as of September 2017. Northern Ireland is far smaller than England with a population of around 1.9 million.

The Royal College of Surgeons is extremely concerned by the continued poor performance of the Northern Ireland health system.

Miss Susan Hill, Vice President of the Royal College of Surgeons said:

“Patients in Northern Ireland who are waiting for surgical treatment, or even for a surgical consultation, are finding themselves in an increasingly unsatisfactory position. Tens of thousands of people are waiting an unacceptably long time for treatment.

For at least the last few years Northern Ireland has received more funding per head of population than England. Therefore insufficient funding isn’t the primary issue. The provision of healthcare in Northern Ireland requires widespread reform. In the first instance reducing the number of unsustainable hospital units, often unpalatable both politically and within local communities, would permit improved recruitment, and a stronger focus on reducing waiting times.

“The situation is compounded by the ongoing political difficulties. We urge all political parties in Northern Ireland to compromise for the sake of the many thous

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.

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