Almost 1 in 5 people in Northern Ireland waiting for first consultant led appointment

19% of people in Northern Ireland, or 358,346 people, are waiting for a first consultant led appointment.

That figure has increased by almost 3% since June 2021, and by nearly 10% since September 2020.

Despite official targets saying that no patients should wait longer than 52 weeks for a first appointment, over half of patients have been on a waiting list for more than a year.

The number of people waiting for inpatient cases has also increased, with there now being 116,199 people waiting to be admitted.

That has increased by over 16% since September 2020, with around 58% of these patients waiting over a year.

116,199 people in Northern Ireland are waiting to be admitted to hospitals for inpatient and day case procedures.

That figure has increased by almost 3% in the past six months and by over 16% since September 2020.

The latest figures have prompted leading surgeon to call for better support for patients who are 'left languishing on waiting lists.'

Dr David Swain, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon and Professional Advisor at the Royal College of Surgeons of England, called the figures 'another blow.' "Unfortunately waiting lists are at a record high and they remain the worst in the UK. Very sadly, patients are deteriorating while they wait years for treatment and clinical advice, Dr Swain warned.

"We need to increase the number of surgical hubs where planned surgery can take place. These COVID-light sites are key to keeping operations going through the winter and beyond," Mr Swain added.

The largest numbers of patients waiting for surgery are trauma and orthopaedic patients with 22,975 people waiting to be admitted.

That has led to the charity Versus Arthritis speaking out, calling for urgent action to support patients, and the health service workforce.

“Current figures confirm Northern Ireland as the UK’s pain capital with the worst waiting times of anywhere in the country," said its Northern Ireland Director Sara Graham.

“These are not just numbers - thousands have been left in agony and disabled because their life-changing joint replacement surgery has been postponed, unable to work or lead an independent life.

"Many are in limbo, with no updates or information about their treatment," she added.