Swann expects orthopaedic surgery in Western Trust to return to pre-COVID levels this month

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Health Minister Robin Swann says he expects orthopaedic surgery in the Western Trust to return to pre-COVID-19 levels by the end of this month.

He said addressing waiting times was ‘a key priority for me’.

"In April 2022 my Department commissioned an independent review of the elective orthopaedic service in NI to support service rebuild following the pandemic.

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"Since then, good progress has been made across the region, with some Trusts now exceeding pre-Covid levels of activity,” he said, in response to an Assembly Question tabled by Foyle MLA Ciara Ferguson.


Referring to the situation locally he said: “There have been some recent challenges experienced in the Western Trust. The Trust has provided a clear plan on how to recover elective orthopaedics to pre-COVID levels, and I expect this to be achieved by end of March. This will support increased service delivery.

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“In 2022/23, the Western Trust partnered with the Independent Sector to treat patients on orthopaedic waiting lists at the South West Acute Hospital. This was stopped due to financial pressures; however, I hope to restart this initiative, subject to availability of funding.”

The Health Minister said the transformation of HSC services alone is not enough to remove ‘unacceptably long waiting times’.

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"We need to invest in additionality to reduce waits. Any future funding allocation to help reduce waiting lists in orthopaedics across all Trusts, including the Western Trust, will need to be considered as part of a broader review of resource investment in Waiting List Initiatives,” said the minister.