Thousands waiting more than a year to see a consultant

Craigavon Area Hospital.
Craigavon Area Hospital.

Almost 7,000 patients in the Southern Health Trust area have been waiting more than a year for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, according to the government’s latest figures.

The Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at June 30, 2017 - and they show a worsening situation across the Province.

The 2017/18 Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times states that by March 2018, at least 50 per cent of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.

However, the department’s figures show that the Southern Trust is failing to meet those targets, and that 16 per cent of all patients (6,909 people) awaiting a first consultant-led outpatient appointment have been waiting more than a year.

The figures also show that there were more than 10,000 patients in the Trust area waiting for inpatient and day case admissions as of June 30.

Again the target states that no patient should have to wait more than 52 weeks to be seen, but the statistics reveal that almost 1,400 have been on the waiting list for over a year.

• Number of patients waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment in the Southern Trust and weeks waiting – 30th June 2017:

0-6 weeks - 10,084

6-9 weeks - 3,372

9-12 weeks - 2,489

12-15 weeks - 2,612

15-18 weeks - 2,355

18-52 weeks - 15,402

More than 52 weeks - 6,909

Total waiting - 43,223

• Percentage of patients waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment in Southern Trust and weeks waiting – 30th June 2017:

0-6 weeks - 23.3%

6-9 weeks - 7.8%

9-12 weeks - 5.8%

12-15 weeks - 6.0%

15-18 weeks - 5.4%

18-52 weeks - 35.6%

More than 52 weeks - 16.0%

The figures reveal a worsening situation across Northern Ireland:

At 30 June 2017, a total of 264,451 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 4.5% (11,358) more than at 31 March 2017 (253,093) and 17.2% (38,858) more than at 30 June 2016 (225,593).

Over two thirds (71.6%, 189,289) of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment at 30 June 2017, compared with 69.6% (176,276) at 31 March 2017 and 64.8% (146,167) at 30 June 2016.

At 30 June 2017, 24.2% (64,074) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 21% (53,113) at 31 March 2017, and 13.4% (30,170) at 30 June 2016.

During the quarter ending June 2017, there were 117,737 attendances for a first outpatient appointment, a decrease of 6.3% (7,976) on the number seen during the quarter ending March 2017 (125,713), and 8.3% (10,619) less than during the quarter ending June 2016 (128,356).

• Number of patients waiting for inpatient and day case admissions in Southern Trust and weeks waiting – 30th June 2017:

0-6 - 2,920

6-13 - 2,087

13-21 - 1,879

21-26 - 714

26-52 - 1,966

More than 52 - 1,393

Total waiting for admission - 10,959