Surgeons welcome new surgical hub in NI Health Minister's plans
26 May 2022
Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Robin Swann yesterday announced a range of important initiatives to treat more patients on hospital waiting lists. This included Omagh Hospital being named as Northern Ireland’s second regional Day Procedure Centre. This means it will become an additional surgical hub – where planned surgery takes place. The Minister also announced £46m for the first six months of 2022/23. The additional funding will be used to create extra capacity in the health service, as well as paying independent sector providers to assess and treat patients who are on waiting lists.
Commenting on this announcement, Northern Ireland Director of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, Professor Mark Taylor, said:
“We are delighted with Minister Swann’s decision which means that we now have two core surgical hubs in Northern Ireland – Omagh and Lagan Valley. This will give surgical teams more opportunities to operate and help patients in need.
“We also welcome additional funding to increase the number of planned operations we can do. However, we are mindful it is going to take some time to impact Northern Ireland’s very long waiting lists, which are the worst in the UK. We are calling for a viable workforce plan to help fill the 6,800 staff vacancies in our health and social care system.
“Throughout the course of the pandemic and even before, doctors and nurses from right across the health service have been highlighting the scourge of the waiting lists - and calling for drastic action. Make no mistake, we have a huge job in front of us. The Minister called it a ‘Herculean challenge’. It is, but as surgeons, we are ready to do everything we can to help. We want to do the job we have been trained to do and help make a difference to our patients’ lives.”
Notes to editors
1.The Minister’s statement can be viewed here: Minister announces further waiting list initiatives | Department of Health (health-ni.gov.uk).It announces Omagh Hospital as Northern Ireland’s second regional Day Procedure Centre. This centre will see seven regional theatre lists per week across urology and general surgery – two specialities with some of the longest waits across the HSC. This means an extra 1,750 patients across these specialities will be treated per year when fully implemented. In addition 10 regional endoscopy sessions at Omagh Hospital will see an extra 3,000 patients per year.
It also highlights news of additional funding i.e. £46m in the first two quarters of 2022/23, covering the period April to September. As well as additional recurrent investment of over £16m per year to boost in-house health service capacity to treat patients. Other points from the Minister’s statement include:
- The regional endoscopy extension at Omagh hospital will further be supported with 20 extra sessions at Lagan Valley Hospital. In total approximately 9,000 extra patients will be seen per year.
- Lagan Valley Hospital Day Procedure Centre was set up in 2020 and is further increasing activity to deliver over 900 theatre lists per year with over 5,000 patients treated across ENT, urology, hernias and gynaecology.
- Regional urology stone services at Craigavon Area Hospital will see an increase in the number of sessions for Extra Corporeal Shockwave Lithotripsy and increase in productivity per session. This means an additional 1,050 patients per year can be treated.
- Increase in paediatric day procedures involving recovery of theatre capacity across Trusts, which will allow children to be treated in a more timely manner with the intention to clear the excessive waits for children waiting for general surgery within 12 months.
2.The RCS Eng Surgical manifesto for the 2022 Stormont Assembly elections is here: Surgical manifesto for the 2022 Stormont Assembly elections — Royal College of Surgeons (rcseng.ac.uk)
3. The Royal College of Surgeons of England is represented in Northern Ireland by a Professional Board of 20 surgeons reflecting the specialty areas of: Neurosurgery, ENT, Paediatrics, General Surgery, Trauma and Orthopaedics, Plastics, Urology, Vascular, Cardiothoracic and OMFS. The Board includes 10 elected regional specialty advisors, Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT), QUB Medical School Surgical Society, NIMDTA Head of the School of Surgery and an RCS England Council member. The purpose of the Board is to improve surgical outcomes for patients, advocate locally and support the dissemination of good practice and professional guidance.
4. 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 RCS Press Office:
Telephone: 020 7869 6052/6054
For out-of-hours media enquiries: 020 7869 6056