The Western Trust has acknowledged it doesn’t have enough money or staff to meet the current demand for hip operations in Derry.
SDLP health spokesperson, Mark H. Durkan, raised the matter with the health authority’s Chief Executive Dr. Anne Kilgallen on behalf of an elderly constituent who has now been waiting two years for a new hip.
He complained that the woman had been put down for a hip replacement in April 2016 but as of this month, May 2018, the consultant dealing with her case was working through patients listed in May 2015.
In a letter of response to the Foyle MLA’s concerns, Dr. Kilgallen stated: “The resources needed to see and treat patients are not sufficient to meet the demand from referrals in a number of key specialties, including orthopaedics.
“This is due to the constrained funding within the Health and Social Care system, which is not at this time sufficient to allow us to see or treat all patients referred to the Trust.
“The Trust is however in the process of developing a new day case theatre for elective orthopaedic surgery which will allow increased numbers of patients to be treated when it is completed, and staff recruited for it, by the end of 2018.”
Mr. Durkan recently received confirmation from the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, that 864 patients in the Trust were waiting an average of 64.2 weeks for a hip operation at the end of December 2017.
“The figures supplied to me don’t fully reflect what’s happening,” he said.
“It says there is a 60 odd week wait on average but there are people who have been waiting for two to three years and it doesn’t appear the consultants are anywhere near the end of the waiting lists,” he added.
The Western Trust said it was a matter for the DoH in the first instance.
A DoH spokesperson said: “The Department agrees that excessive waiting times are totally unacceptable, but has made it clear that improvement is not possible without transformation. However in March 2018 the Department allocated additional funding of £30million from the Confidence and Supply Transformation Fund for the purposes of addressing elective waiting lists.
“This additional funding will be distributed across outpatient assessments, diagnostics, In-Patient/Daycase Procedures and Allied Health Professions treatments and will be targeted at those with the highest clinical need, as well as those who having been waiting the longest.”