Almost 25,000 waiting over a year to see consultant

Tens of thousands of people have been waiting over a year for a consultant led appointment in the Western Trust, new figures released by the Health Minister Robin Swann show.

At the end of March, of 43,624 patients waiting to be seen, over half (24,971) were waiting for more than 52 weeks.

That’s out of an estimated population in the Western Trust geographical area of approximately 300,000.

The data was released by the minister in response to an Assembly Question tabled by Foyle SDLP MLA Sinéad McLaughlin.

Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin

The minister has further revealed that thousands of patients (3,247) were waiting over a year for an urgent outpatient appointment. In total 11,139 were waiting for an urgent appointment at the end of March.

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There were also hundred of ‘red flag’ cancer patients (764) waiting to be seen although none of these were waiting for over a year.

The longest recorded wait was for two patients who had been waiting for between 15 and 18 weeks. A further patient had been waiting for between 12 and 15 weeks. The vast majority had been waiting for less than six weeks (723) and between six and nine weeks (38).

In releasing the information, Mr. Swann indicated that considerable work will be needed to meet departmental targets scheduled to come into play next year.

“The draft 2022/23 Ministerial target states that: ‘By March 2023, 50% of patients should wait no longer than 9 weeks for a first outpatient appointment; with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks’,” he stated.

Ms. McLaughlin said the ‘stark statistics’ from the minister illustrate the ‘deepening health crisis in Derry’.

The Foyle MLA said: “These figures reveal the stark failure to get to grips with the waiting list crisis. Despite targets which say that no patient should wait more than a year on a consultant led outpatient appointment, we have hundreds of thousands of people across the North waiting interminably for the care they need and deserve.”

“The transformation of our health service is long overdue. It must be the single greatest priority for every party.

“Instead of advancing this critical programme of work that will save lives we’re being locked into a never ending argument about the minutiae of Brexit.

“It is absolutely immoral, parties should get back to work to address the real problems facing the people we represent,” Sineád McLaughlin added.

Over half (24,971) of patients waiting in the Western Trust were waiting for more than 52 weeks.

Waits to be seen by consultant in Western Trust

Total: 43,624 patients

Weeks waiting - 0-6 weeks (3,477)

6-9 weeks (1,334)

9-12 weeks (1,237)

12-15 weeks (582)

15-18 weeks (825)

18-52 weeks (9,076)

over 52 weeks (26,292)

Urgent waits

Total: 11,139 patients

Weeks waiting 0-6 weeks (2,980)

6-9 weeks (834)

9-12 weeks (603)

12-15 weeks (292)

15-18 weeks (435)

18-52 weeks (2,748)

over 52 weeks (3,247)