WAITING times for health appointments and procedures have grown since the start of the pandemic, but the Health Minister has warned patients should expect to wait even longer as the crisis drags on.
The stark reality of the impact Covid-19 has been having on our health service has been officially laid bare in the Department of Health’s latest quarterly release of waiting time figures. The numbers reveal a steady rise in the number of people awaiting appointments and procedures.
Diagnostic test waiting times, for example, have risen by 14.6 percent between the second and third quarter last year. Diagnostic test reporting turnaround times have increased by over 45 percent.
Meanwhile, waiting times for inpatient and day case admissions have risen 14.2 percent over the same period, while the number of people waiting for their first outpatient appointment has risen by 6.9 percent.
Health Minster Robin Swann said waiting lists were expected to grow even more in the months ahead.
“I very much regret that the number of people enduring excessive waits for assessment or treatment has increased again. Unfortunately this position can be expected to worsen further,” he said.
Minister Swann added: “Battling the pandemic as well as maintaining non-Covid services as much as possible has been a balancing act and I am grateful to HSC staff for their resilience and efforts.
“In any other walk of life, it would have been natural to wind things down after the first surge as we moved into summer. Health service staff did not do that, but instead redoubled their efforts.”
Minister Swann said the Executive needed to prioritise tackling waiting lists next year, despite its predicted budget constraints.
For a breakdown of the waiting times figures for the Western Trust, see this week’s Fermanagh Herald.
To read more on this story see this week’s Fermanagh Herald. Can’t get to the shop to collect your copy? No problem! You can download a copy straight to your device by following this link https://bit.ly/3gOl8G0
Posted: 9:00 am January 25, 2021