New concerns arise over hospital waiting lists

New research on hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland has highlighted a “lack of clarity” on how the money should be spent to tackle the crisis.

The most recent figures, released in June 2021, showed 184,000 people in Northern Ireland were waiting more than a year for the first hospital outpatient appointment.

Another 66,000 patients waited more than a year for surgery or some other form of treatment in the hospital, while 48,000 waited more than six months for a hospital appointment after being referred for further tests by their doctor. Were.

waiting list The worst in the UK.

Last June, Health Minister Robin Swann announced details of a new £700m “roadmap” to address huge waiting lists over the next five years.

Mr Swann said the crisis had been building up for seven years and had been “severely intensified” by the COVID-19 pandemic and added that there was no “quick fix”.

“The time to talk is over. What we need now is concrete action,” Mr. Swann said.

Finance Minister Conor Murphy last month unveiled the draft of Northern Ireland’s executive 2022-25 budget, adding that health and social care would be prioritized.

Mr Murphy said the draft proposes additional resources to ensure bids for alternative care waiting lists, cancer and mental health reconstruction strategies are “fully met”.

“The health budget of £21bn over the next three years provides a long-awaited opportunity for long-term planning, improving service delivery, and tackling waiting lists on a permanent basis.”

He said the health department would see an increase of more than 10 percent in its budget by the end of this period.

However, a new research document prepared for the Northern Ireland Assembly Health Committee, which examines the department’s work, says it is “not clear” where the money for the waiting list “roadmap” will come from.

Such documents are compiled to provide the committee members with updated information on the issues they are dealing with.

The title of the new research is The unhealthy state of hospital waiting lists: what we know, what we don’t know and need to know,

It said the pandemic has made the already long waiting list “even longer” for alternative care.

“It has also forced the health care system to operate in a different way,” the report said.

“However, much is still not known about the waiting list, and several gaps exist in the data – such as piecemeal reporting of alternative
Lack of clarity about care wait times and funding, in particular, where funds are being allocated and if those decisions represent value for money.

“It is also well recognized that there is a need for massively comprehensive revamping of health care services in Northern Ireland and a strategic approach to addressing waiting lists.”

The document states that “underfunding is one of many reasons for patients to wait longer”, there are other reasons as well.

“In addition, two alternative care plans have been developed over the past four years.

“The most recent, alternative care framework, is subject to a commitment of resources from the Northern Ireland Executive.

“In terms of transparency, it is imperative that data is made available and that the health committee receives strong and regular evidence of progress in implementing the new alternative care framework.

“Furthermore, given the scale of the issue of wait times, it is unlikely that wait times will be at a satisfactory level for a considerable period of time to come.”

The research document was published on 10 December.

In it, the authors said they had asked the Department of Health a number of questions on waiting list funding, but received no response prior to publication.

A spokesman for the health department said sunday free The requested information was provided to the authors on 15 December.