Concern at new stats on Northern Ireland outpatient waiting lists

By Gary Adair

Approximately 14 per cent of the population of Northern Ireland is waiting for a first hospital outpatient appointment according to new figures from the Department of Health.

There are 1.811 million people in Northern Ireland according to the 2011 Census, and at the end of September this year there were 272,656 people waiting for an outpatient appointment - up by 30,000 from the same time last year. The current targets are for at least half of all patients to receive their appointment within 9 weeks, and no patients to be waiting for more than 52 weeks. Just over 200,000 patients had been waiting for their appointment for over 9 weeks, and 73,380 had been waiting for over 52 weeks.

The statistics also revealed that 55,340 patients (almost 50 per cent), waiting on diagnostic tests were waiting for over 9 weeks and 18,697 patients were waiting over 26 weeks. The target is that 75 per cent of patients should have received their diagnostic tests within 9 weeks and no patient should wait longer than 26 weeks.

The figures have been met with concern from different related sectors, in particular because of the importance of early diagnosis in order to catch and treat serious illnesses. Delays in diagnosis can reduce the options for treatment and the chances of success.

If you require legal advice from a medical negligence solicitor in Northern Ireland in respect of injury or loss suffered as a result of delayed diagnosis, or delayed or negligent medical care, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by clicking here.