Waiting Times In NI Health System Show Some Big Rises

Publication of the Quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics - Position at 31 March 2020.

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Publication of the Quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics – Position at 31 March 2020.

Check out the facts of how the Northern Ireland health service is performing in relation tp waiting times for appointments and treatments. It is a bleak picture showing considerable rises in some areas. This takes us two weeks into the lockdown period.

The Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at 31 March 2020.

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.

  • Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment
  • Key facts and figures for NI Waiting Times at end of March 2020.
  • The 2019/20 Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times states that by March 2020, 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 307,066 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 0.7% (2,049) more than at 31 December 2019 (305,017) and 6.3% (18,312) more than at 31 March 2019 (288,754).
  • An additional 1,503 patients were waiting for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment at a Regional Assessment and Surgical Centre for cataract treatment.
  • Almost four fifths (79.1%, 242,864) of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 78.4% (239,130) at 31 December 2019 and 74.0% (213,708) at 31 March 2019.
  • Almost two fifths 38.1% (117,066) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 36.7% (111,963) at 31 December 2019, and 33.9% (97,851) at 31 March 2019.
  • During the quarter ending March 2020, there were 105,321 attendances for a first outpatient appointment, a decrease of 10.2% (11,906) on the number seen during the quarter ending December 2019 (117,227), and 13.9% (16,992) less than during the quarter ending March 2019 (122,313).
  • Waiting Times for Inpatient and Day Case Admission
  • The 2019/20 Ministerial target, for inpatient and day case waiting times, states that by March 2020, 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 93,641 patients were waiting to be admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland, 3.5% (3,127) more than at 31 December 2019 (90,514), and 7.1% (6,191) more than at 31 March 2019 (87,450).
  • An additional 3,294 patients were waiting for treatment at a Regional Assessment and Surgical Centre (RASC); 932 patients were waiting to be admitted to a Varicose Veins RASC, with a further 2,362 patients waiting to be admitted to a Cataracts RASC.
  • Over two thirds (71.4%, 66,872) of patients were waiting more than 13 weeks for either inpatient or day case admission, compared with 68.7% (62,163) at 31st December 2019 and 65.0% (56,871) at 31 March 2019.
  • Almost a third (32.8%, 30,696) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for either an inpatient or day case admission, compared with 29.9% (27,090) at at 31 December 2019, and 25.6% (22,350) at 31 March 2019.
  • During the quarter ending December 2019, 17,549 patients received inpatient and day case treatment, 59.4% (25,677) fewer than during the quarter ending December 2019 (43,226) and 65.2% (32,914) fewer than during the quarter ending March 2019 (50,463).
  • Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service
  • The draft 2019/20 Ministerial target for diagnostic waiting times states that, by March 2020, 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 131,040 patients were waiting for a diagnostic service, 7.2% (10,234) more than at 31 December 2019 (141,274) and 0.5% (637) more than at 31 March 2019 (130,403).
  • More than half (55.1%, 72,248) of patients were waiting longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, compared with 57.5% (81,286) at 31 December 2019 and 49.4% (64,387) at 31 March 2019.
  • Over a quarter (27.3%, 35,784) of patients were waiting more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test, compared with 30.4% (42,895) at 31 December 2019 and 21.7% (28,321) at 31 March 2019.
  • Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times
  • The draft 2019/20 Ministerial target for diagnostic reporting times states that, by March 2020, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.
  • A total of 408,012 diagnostic tests were reported on and dispatched to the referring clinician at hospitals in Northern Ireland during the quarter ending March 2020, 3.5% (14,971) fewer than the quarter ending December 2019 (422,983), and 1.3% (5,208) fewer than the quarter ending March 2019 (413,220).
  • Of the 62,970 urgent diagnostic tests reported on, 85.4% (53,797) were reported on within two days. 
  • The Western HSC Trust reported the highest proportion of urgent tests within two days (94.0%), with the other HSC Trusts reporting between 77.1% and 88.0% of urgent tests within two days. 

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All publications are available on the Department’s website at: 

https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/topics/dhssps-statistics-and-research/hospital-waiting-times-statistics.