Northern Ireland news

Department of Health said "sustained investment" needed to address waiting list backlog

The Department of Health last night said "sustained investment" is required to address the waiting list backlog after new figures revealed an increase in the number of people waiting to see a consultant for the first time.
Marie Louise McConville

The Department of Health last night said "sustained investment" is required to address the waiting list backlog after new figures revealed an increase in the number of people waiting to see a consultant for the first time.

New figures released yesterday by the department showed that on March 31 this year, a total of 288,754 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment compared to the 269,834 who were on the waiting list at the same time last year.

Around three quarters of those had been waiting more than nine weeks while 34 per cent had been waiting more than 52 weeks.

In addition, on March 31 this year, a total of 130,351 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test, 23,735 more than the same time last year.

Almost half of those were waiting longer than nine weeks while 21 per cent were waiting more than 26 weeks, up from 16 per cent on March 31, 2018.

The figures also revealed that while the ministerial target states that all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken, on March 31 this year, only 86 per cent were reported on within that time.

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