Concerns at rise in Northern Ireland hospital waiting lists

By Gary Adair

There were 299,436 people in Northern Ireland on a waiting list for their first appointment with a consultant at the end of June, an increase of 8.5 per cent on the same time last year.

According to new figures released by the Department of Health over a third of patients had waited over a year for their first appointment, thereby missing the 52 week maximum wait target. And unfortunately, the waiting doesn't end with the first consultation. Any patients requiring medical tests may find themselves waiting longer than 9 weeks, as was the case with over half of the 138,647 patients waiting for tests to be carried out.

Pressures with finance and resources in the Northern Ireland health system have been well documented in recent years, and Stormont's Department of Health referred to "financial pressures over several years" and the need for "substantial and sustained investment .. to address the waiting time backlog."

Delays in assessment and treatment can allow conditions that were otherwise treatable to become significantly more complex, thereby reducing the options for recovery or effective treatment. Waiting lists for initial consultations and medical tests demonstrate that the pressures on our health system have caused delays throughout the entire process, from the first assessment through to the implementation of a plan of treatment.

If you have suffered injury or loss as a result of a delay in medical assessment or treatment, or as a result of medical negligence, and want to speak to a clinical negligence solicitor in Belfast about your options to pursue a claim for compensation, contact Wilson Nesbitt by clicking here.