IN NEWS that will be surprising to few in Fermanagh, a new online system to show waiting times for health services across the North has confirmed patients here face significantly longer waiting times for certain procedures than patients elsewhere.
‘My Waiting Times NI’ was launched last week by the Department of Health to improve and centralise already publicly available information on waiting times.
Available on the www.hscni.net website, a quick browse of the figures highlights the stark geographic inequalities in the health service across the North, with wildly varying waiting times across various services in the North’s five health trusts.
For example, the app shows general surgery has one of the longest waiting times than any other service in the North.
In the Northern Trust, the average waiting times for routine general surgery is 71 weeks. In the Belfast Trust it is 81 weeks, in the Southern Trust it is 99 weeks, and in the South Eastern Trust is is 107 weeks. In the Western Trust the wait is 118 weeks.
With regard gastroenterology appointments, another in-demand service, Western Trust patients are waiting an average of 153 weeks for a routine appointment.
The South Eastern Trust was not far behind with an average 150 week wait, while Northern Trust patients are waiting 118 weeks, Southern Trust patients are waiting 106 weeks, and Belfast patients are waiting an average of 64 weeks.
However, the app does show there are also some other areas where Western Trust patients do not have the longest waiting lists, although we are still lagging behind.
With regard oral surgery, for example, the app shows the Western Trust does not have the longest wait times for the service, which has wildly varying waiting times across the trusts.
While in the Western Trust patients face an average 139 weeks for routine oral surgery, while in the South Eastern Trust the average waiting time for the same service is 157 weeks, while in the Northern Trust it is 184 weeks. However, in the Southern Trust the average waiting time is 51 weeks, while at the Belfast Trust it is just six weeks.
In obsterics and gynaecology, waiting times for routine appointments are an average of 85 weeks, however in the South Eastern Trust the wait is 129 weeks.
Other trusts fare much better, though.
In the Southern Trust the wait is 63 weeks, in the Northern Trust the wait is 53 weeks, and in the Belfast Trust the wait is just 21 weeks.
Cardiology is one of the only areas where local patients face shorter waiting times than others.
In the Western Trust the wait for a routine cardiology appointment is just nine weeks. In the Northern Trust the wait is 13 weeks, in the Belfast Trust it is 61 weeks, in the Southern Trust it is 80 weeks, and in the South Eastern Trust it is 85 weeks.
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