New figures today for Northern Ireland hospitals show that while some targets have been surpassed in terms of inpatient and outpatient waiting times, there are still significant numbers waiting longer than the maxiumum targets set by the Minister.
In December 2012, the number of people waiting more than 21 weeks for a first outpatient appointment was 7,405, or 6.9% of the total number waiting. While this misses the Department’s target of having no patients waiting so long for an appointment, it is a significant improvement on the 24,720 (19.9%) waiting at the end of December 2011.
At the same time, end of December, a third (33.0%, or 35,333) of the total number waiting were waiting more than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment. This is well ahead of targets that less than 50% of patients should be waiting that long, and is a decrease from the 47.8% (59,378 out of 124,100 total patients waiting) at the end of December 2011.
The updated targets for waiting lists today (end of February 2013) aim for 60% of patients being seen within 9 weeks, and no patient waiting longer than 18 weeks.
In terms of patients waiting for inpatient admissions (i.e. expecting a stay in hospital), 35.8% were waiting longer than 13 weeks, well ahead of the target that less than 50% should have that wait. However, 4.4% (2.243) of the 51,211 patients were waiting longer than 36 weeks, compared to the Minister’s target of zero patients waiting that long.