• Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
Button
  • Love Ballymena

Health Minister Robin Swann | “Our hospital waiting times are appalling”


Publication of the Quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case, Outpatient and Diagnostic Waiting Times Statistics - Position at 31 March 2021

Health Minister Robin Swann has said the current waiting times in Northern Ireland’s health service are ‘appalling’ and he is seeking a commitment from the Executive for recurrent targeted funding and sustained investment.


The Minister was commenting as the Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case and Outpatient Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at 31 March 2021.


“Our hospital waiting times are appalling. What we need is sustained concrete action,” the Health Minister said.


“I can confirm that the new NI elective care framework is being finalised for publication. It will set out both the immediate and longer term actions needed to tackle our waiting lists.


“I will be making a specific ask of the Executive to commit recurrent targeted funding for waiting times over a number of years - sustained investment over and above day-to-day health spending.”



North Antrim MLA Jim Allister

North Antrim MLA & TUV Party Leader Jim Allister has said that the current waiting lists is a problem made in Stormont. Mr Alistair states:


“The waiting list figures published today are a shocking inditement of how devolution has failed the people of Northern Ireland.


“All the targets which the Department has set itself have been missed, not by fine margins but missed spectacularly. Rather than no one waiting longer than 52 weeks for a first outpatient appointment well over half (56.6%) are. Rather than no one waiting longer than 52 weeks for inpatient and day case admission over 60% are. And one could go on.


“Why is that? Since devolution returned in 2007 we have reduced the number of hospital beds by 1,500. We have one of the lowest number of ICU beds per 100,000 of population in the Western world. The Executive has failed when it comes to this core issue impacting the day to day lives of countless people across Northern Ireland."


“Contrast these facts with Stormont’s ability to squander money. A budget was debated just this week which finds money to invest in an expanded translation hub for Irish and Ulster Scots when we know that the existing service has only been used a handful of times in years. When put in that context many people will question what devolution is delivering for them."


The Waiting Times Statistics releases show detailed information on the number of people waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, a diagnostic test and inpatient or day case treatment at hospitals in Northern Ireland.


Key facts and figures for Northern Ireland Waiting Times at end of March 2021


Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment


  • The 2020/21 Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times states that by March 2021, at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.

  • A total of 335,042 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 3.7% (11,868) more than at 31 December 2020 (323,174) and 9.1% (27,976) more than at 31 March 2020 (307,066).

  • An additional 12,476 patients were waiting for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment at a Day Case Procedure Centre (DPC) for cataract treatment.

  • Over four fifths (83.9%, 281,140) of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 85.3% (275,651) at 31 December 2020 and 79.1% (242,864) at 31 March 2020.

  • Over half (56.6%; 189,753) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 51.9% (167,806) at 31 December 2020, and 38.1% (117,066) at 31 March 2020.

  • During the quarter ending March 2021, there were 71,078 attendances for a first outpatient appointment, an increase of 7.6% (5,023) on the number seen during the quarter ending December 2020 (66,055), and 32.5% (34,190) less than during the quarter ending March 2020 (105,268).


Waiting Times for Inpatient and Day Case Admission


  • The 2020/21 Ministerial target, for inpatient and day case waiting times, states that by March 2021, 55% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.

  • A total of 111,209 patients were waiting to be admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland, 5.8% (6,050) more than at 31 December 2020 (105,159), and 18.8% (17,568) more than at 31 March 2020 (93,641).

  • An additional 3,741 patients were waiting for treatment at a Day Case Procedure Centre (DPC); 879 patients were waiting to be admitted to a Varicose Veins DPC, with a further 2,862 patients waiting to be admitted to a Cataracts DPC.

  • Over four-fifths (83.3%, 92,690) of patients were waiting more than 13 weeks to be admitted for treatment, compared with 81.7% (85,883) at 31 December 2020 and 71.4% (66,872) at 31 March 2020.

  • More than half (61.4%, 68,309) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for either an inpatient or day case admission, compared with 53.5% (56,242) at 31 December 2020, and 32.8% (30,696) at 31 March 2020.

  • During the quarter ending March 2021, 25,672 patients received inpatient and day case treatment, 4.9% (1,327) fewer than during the quarter ending 31 December 2020 (26,999) and 36.3% (14,620) fewer than during the quarter ending 31 March 2020


Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service


  • The 2020/21 Ministerial target for diagnostic waiting times states that, by March 2021, 75% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with no patient waiting longer than 26 weeks.

  • A total of 137,235 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test, 5.0% (7,198) fewer than at 31 December 2020 (144,433), and 4.7% (6,195) more than at 31 March 2020 (131,040).

  • Almost than three-fifths (56.7%, 77,844) of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, compared with 62.8% (90,643) at 31 December 2020 and 55.1% (72,248) at 31 March 2020.

  • Almost two-fifths (37.4%, 51,259) of patients were waiting more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test compared with 40.0% (57,818) at 31 December 2020 and 27.3% (35,784) at 31 March 2020.


Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times


  • The draft 2020/21 Ministerial target for diagnostic reporting times states that, by March 2021, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.

  • A total of 364,790 diagnostic tests were reported on and dispatched to the referring clinician at hospitals in Northern Ireland during the quarter ending March 2021, 1.0% (3,542) more than the quarter ending December 2020 (361,248), and 10.6% (43,222) fewer than the quarter ending March 2020 (408,012).

  • Of the 77,636 urgent diagnostic tests reported on during quarter ending March 2021, 84.3% (65,413) were reported on within two days.

  • The Western HSC Trust reported the highest proportion of urgent tests within two days (93.3%), with the other HSC Trusts reporting between 76.7% and 85.0% of urgent tests within two days.