Northern Ireland news

More than 120,000 people waiting for surgery or hospital treatment

New figures have revealed that more than 120,000 people in Northern Ireland are currently on the waiting on list for surgery or hospital treatment
Marie Louise McConville

HEALTH Minister Robin Swann has described waiting lists figures, which show more than 120,000 people awaiting surgery or hospital treatment, as "appalling".

New Department of Health figures reveal that on December 31, 120,097 people were waiting to be admitted to hospital - a 14.2 per cent jump on the same date last year.

Almost 70,000 have been waiting more than a year.

The number waiting to see a consultant has also risen with 186,745 waiting more than one year.

During the quarter ending December 2021, there were 88,513 attendances for a first outpatient appointment. This was an increase of 9.2 per cent on the quarter ending September 2021 and 33.3 per cent more than the quarter ending December 2020.

The numbers waiting for a diagnostic test has also slightly risen. More than half were waiting more than nine weeks while almost 50,000 were waiting more than 26 weeks.

Mr Swann said: "Our waiting lists are appalling, but in the absence of funding and a functioning executive they will likely get worse instead of better.

"That is the abhorrent reality of the situation we are currently facing."

Mark Taylor, Northern Ireland Director of the Royal College of Surgeons, said the figures were "unacceptable".

"We need significant recurrent investment both in staff and physical infrastructure, and we need to fund additional students and trainees across a range of professional groups over the next few years," he said.

"The challenge is huge but with the right mix of investment and political support, we can really make a difference to Northern Ireland’s unacceptable waiting lists".

Meanwhile, Mr Swann also provided an update on actions to tackle waiting lists.

Initiatives introduced to help cut down the lists include the development of mega clinics and the establishment of a new Elective Care Centre Management Team.

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