It’s fair to say that few of us like to wait. Whether it’s waiting to be served at a supermarket checkout or finding that there are lots of people ahead of us in the ticket queue; we know that this is time that we could be using to do something else. So why would we want to wait for something as important as our healthcare?
At Private Health Insurance NI we often hear from people when enquiring about health insurance, that one of the main reasons why they want to change is because they don’t wish to be put on a lengthy waiting list for their medical treatment. Whether it’s waiting for a diagnostic test or simply waiting on an appointment from a consultant, we all want what’s best for us and our family’s health when we need it most.
Much has been said over the years by successive governments about reducing hospital waiting lists and as the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Edwin Poots, releases the latest Waiting List Statistics for Northern Ireland*, we take a closer look at what’s behind these figures**.
From April 2011, the Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times stated that at least half of patients should not wait any longer than nine weeks for their first outpatient appointment, all routine diagnostic tests should be reported on within four weeks and that at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment.
As the latest statistics are released the figures suggest that with the exception of outpatient waiting times, there has been a slight increase in the overall waiting lists for both diagnostic and inpatient admissions in the past year. The overall figures are set out below.
- Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment
“The total number of people waiting for a first outpatient appointment at the end of December 2011 was 124,100.
This represented a decrease of 6,683 (-5.1%) on the number waiting at the end of September 2011 (130,783) and a decrease of 489 (-0.4%) on the number waiting at the same time last year (124,589).
- Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service
“The total number of patients waiting at the end of December 2011 for a diagnostic service was 65,379, an increase of 3,270 (+5.3%) on the previous quarter (62,109), and an increase of 3,378 (+5.4%) on the number waiting at the end of December 2010 (62,001).”
- Waiting Times for Inpatient Admission
“The total number of patients waiting for treatment at the end of December 2011 was 56,470.
This total has decreased by 523 (-0.9%) compared with the previous quarter (56,993), but has increased by 5,701 (+11.2%) compared with the same quarter in the previous year (50,769).”
As can be seen from the figures, whilst there have been marked improvements in some areas there’s still some way to go before waiting lists become a thing of the past within the health system in Northern Ireland.
At Private Health Insurance NI we can help you and your family find the best PMI solution to meet your needs. With access to some of the top private healthcare facilities across Northern Ireland, no waiting lists and the reassurance of private facilities in comfortable surroundings, private health insurance will give you and your family peace of mind every time.
*The above figures include all privately funded patients waiting for treatment in Health Service hospitals and those patients who are resident outside Northern Ireland.
** Further information is available from http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/stats_research/hospital-stats.htm