Up to five years’ wait for knee and hip operations

FERMANAGH patients needing new hips and knees are having to wait up to five years for an outpatients appointment, and at times over four years to be admitted as an impatient. 
In the Western Trust’s latest report into orthopaedic services, the area of health concerned with bones and joints, it was revealed the longest waiting times for local orthopaedic outpatient services has jumped from 26 weeks in 2007 to 271 weeks, which it is currently. The longest waiting times for orthopaedic day case services is currently 238 weeks, while the longest wait for impatients is 242 weeks. 
Cllr Adam Gannon said waiting times were increasing “across the board” and said it was a result of a combination of austerity on the NHS, a lack of direction at the Department of Health, and the lack of a health minister and functioning Assembly. 
Cllr Gannon said the ever growing waiting lists were causing distress and hardship for many here in Fermanagh. 
“I’ve been speaking to many patients who have been on waiting lists for loads of things,” he said. “Generally it’s having a very negative impact on their lives, especially in regards orthopaedic. They need new hips, new knee joints and so on, and that has a massive impact on your life. For example, if your knee is done you won’t be able to walk and you may not be able to look after yourself.
“That has a knock-on impact. You may not be able to work properly, and with the horrendous benefits system we have at the moment, those people are being further hit. They are stuck in a place where they can’t get the treatment and they can’t get support.”
In its report the Trust noted the growing waiting times for orthopaedics was affecting patients in several ways, such as impacting on their employment and relationships, as well as leading to an increase in opiate addiction. 

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