More than 428,000 on waiting list for first outpatient hospital appointment

The figure has increased by 9.3% in a year,

By Jonathan McCambridge (PA)

More than 428,000 patients were on a waiting list for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland at the end of September, new statistics show.

The figure has increased by 9.3% in a year, and almost half of patients have been waiting longer than 12 months.

A quarterly update from the Department of Health showed small decreases in the number waiting for inpatient admission or a diagnostic care appointment.

Northern Ireland has the worst hospital waiting lists in the UK, with more than a quarter of the population waiting for an inpatient or outpatient appointment.

The Department of Health in the region is grappling with a multimillion-pound budget shortfall.

Experts have previously warned that it will take years to tackle hospital waiting lists in the region.

No health minister is in place in Northern Ireland while the powersharing institutions remain suspended.

The statistics show that 428,858 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment on September 30. This is 12,836 more than at the end of June and 36,571 higher than September 2022.

The department’s draft target for outpatient waiting time states that at least half of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.

The update revealed that the median waiting time was 53.1 weeks, with 83.4% of patients waiting more than nine weeks for a first appointment.

Almost half of patients (212,374) have been waiting for longer than 52 weeks.

The statistics show that 115,929 patients were waiting for inpatient or day case admission to hospitals in Northern Ireland at the end of September, 2.7% fewer than on June 30.

The department’s draft target is that 55% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.

The median waiting time for an inpatient appointment was 55.7 weeks, with 78.6% of patients waiting longer than 13 weeks for admission.

More than half of patients (60,161) were waiting more than 52 weeks for admission.

The statistics show that 188,850 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test at the end of September.

The draft target is that 75% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with no patient waiting longer than 26 weeks.

Almost 60% of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with 32.4% waiting longer than 26 weeks.

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