Crucial NI surgical services are not ‘stood down again’ - one in four people in NI on a waiting list

A report by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) says it is crucial that surgical services in Northern Ireland are not “stood down again”.

By Gemma Murray
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 7:58 am

According to a report on the BBC the most recent statistics reveal that one in four people in Northern Ireland is on a waiting list.

Northern Ireland has the worst waiting times of any UK region.

The Health Minister Robin Swann said tackling waiting lists is a “long-term task” and needs “long-term, recurrent funding”.

Sign up to our public interest bulletins - get the latest news on the Coronavirus

Surgeons operating on a patient

The college has said that a regional approach involving patient and surgical teams travelling to surgical hubs is the key to moving forward.

Surgeons acknowledge that could involve additional travel for some people.

“The Action Plan for Surgical Recovery: 10 steps not 10 years” has called for investment, waiting list and surgery plans, Covid-light sites in every trust area, surgical hubs and elective accountability.

From the start of the pandemic, almost all elective surgery was cancelled in Northern Ireland, as wards were closed and nurses moved to work solely in Covid areas.

The move only exacerbated the waiting list crisis.

Mark Taylor, Director for Northern Ireland at the RCS, said that since the pandemic, the situation has only “worsened over the last year” with the health service now in “deep crisis”.

“These patients will be waiting in pain and uncertainty, some of them unable to work, to go about day-to-day life,” he added.

“They will be waiting for treatments ranging from hip and knee replacements to post-mastectomy breast reconstructions, and children’s surgeries such as putting in vents for ear glue.

“The statistics also belie the true scale of the problem - some will seek expensive private treatment.”