Publication of the Quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics - Position at 30th September 2017

Date published: 30 November 2017

The Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at 30th September 2017.

The Waiting Times Statistics releases show detailed information on the number of people waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, a diagnostic test and inpatient or day case treatment at hospitals in Northern Ireland.

Key facts and figures for NI Waiting Times at end of September 2017

Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment

  • The 2017/18 Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times states that by March 2018, at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.
  • At 30th September 2017, a total of 272,656 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 3.1% (8,205) more than at 30th June 2017 (264,451) and 12.1% (29,515) more than at 30th September 2016 (243,141).
  • Almost three quarters (74.6%, 203,478) of patients were waiting more than 9 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment at 30th September 2017, compared with 71.6% (189,289) at 30th June 2017 and 68.8% (167,250) at 30th September 2016.
  • At 30th September 2017, 26.9% (73,380) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 24.2% (64,074) at 30th June 2017, and 16.3% (39,557) at 30th September 2016.
  • During the quarter ending September 2017, there were 109,474 attendances for a first outpatient appointment, a decrease of 7.0% (8,263) on the number seen during the quarter ending June 2017 (117,737), and 4.1% (4,734) less than during the quarter ending September 2016 (114,208).

Waiting Times for Inpatient and Day Case Admission

  • The 2017/18 Ministerial target, for inpatient and day case waiting times, states that by March 2018, 55% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.
  • At 30th September 2017, a total of 75,240 patients were waiting for admission to hospital, 3.8% (2,760) more than at 30th June 2017 (72,480) and 7.4% (5,205) more than at 30th September 2016 (70,035).
  • At 30th September 2017, 62.5% (47,009) of patients were waiting more than 13 weeks for either inpatient or day case admission, compared with 59.0% (42,732) at 30th June 2017 and 56.8% (39,772) at 30th September 2016.
  • At 30th September 2017, 17.5% (13,176) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for either an inpatient or day case admission, compared with 15.5% (11,261) at 30th June 2017, and 11.0% (7,710) at 30th September 2016.  
  • During the quarter ending September 2017, 41,567 patients received inpatient and day case treatment, 8.3% (3,751) less than the quarter ending June 2017 (45,318), and 11.7% (5,490) less than during the quarter ending September 2016 (47,057).

Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service

  • The draft 2017/18 Ministerial target for diagnostic waiting times states that, by March 2018, 75% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with no patient waiting longer than 26 weeks.
  • At 30th September 2017, 112,521 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test, 41 more than at 30th June 2017 (112,480) and 10.2% (10,460) more than at 30th September 2016 (102,061).
  • Almost half (49.2%, 55,340) of patients were waiting longer than 9 weeks for a diagnostic test at 30th September 2017, compared with 44.1% (49,602) at 30th June 2017 and 39.9% (40,686) at 30th September 2016.
  • At 30th September 2017, 16.6% (18,697) of patients were waiting more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test compared with 12.1% (13,593) at 30th June 2017 and 9.5% (9,675) at 30th September 2016.

Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times

  • The draft 2017/18 Ministerial target for diagnostic reporting times states that, from April 2016, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.
  • A total of 401,225 diagnostic tests were reported on and dispatched to the referring clinician at hospitals in Northern Ireland during the quarter ending September 2017, 0.6% (2,596) less than the quarter ending June 2017 (403,821), and 6.7% (25,314) more than the quarter ending September 2016 (375,911).
  • In Northern Ireland as a whole, 86.3% of all urgent diagnostic tests were reported on within 2 days in the quarter ending September 2017, compared to 87.7% in the previous quarter and 85.3% for the same quarter last year.
  • The Western HSC Trust reported the highest proportion of urgent tests within two days (94.6%), with the other HSC Trusts reporting between 79.9% and 94.2% of urgent tests within 2 days.  

Notes to editors: 

1. All publications are available online.

2. About the data

  • The sources for the data contained in this release are the Departmental Information Returns CH3, SDR1, DRTT and the DoH Inpatient Waiting Time Dataset. These returns collect information from HSC Trusts and the Health and Social Care Board on a quarterly basis.
  • Figures will also include privately funded patients waiting to be seen/for treatment in Health Service hospitals and those patients who are resident outside Northern Ireland.
  • Data incorporate all returns and amendments received from HSC Trusts up to 14th November 2017.

3. Outpatient definitions

  • An outpatient appointment is an appointment to enable a patient to see a consultant, a member of their team or a locum for such a member, in respect of one referral.
  • The waiting list figures include all outpatients who have not had their first appointments by the end of the quarter including those who have cancelled or missed a previous appointment.
  • The outpatient waiting list figures presented do not include maternity specialties 501 (Obstetrics), 510 (Obstetrics (Ante Natal)) and 520 (Obstetrics (Post Natal)).  

4. Inpatient and Day Case definitions

  • Inpatient admissions include both (a) patients admitted electively with the expectation that they will remain in hospital for at least one night, and (b) non-elective admissions (e.g. emergency admissions).  A patient who is admitted with either of the above intentions, but who leaves hospital for any reason without staying overnight, is still counted as an ordinary admission.  The figures in this statistics release only include non-emergency admissions.
  • Day Cases are patients admitted electively during the course of a day with the intention of receiving care who do not require the use of a hospital bed overnight and who return home as scheduled.  If this original intention is not fulfilled and the patient stays overnight, such a patient is counted as an ordinary admission.
  • The waiting list figures presented include people waiting to be admitted as inpatients either as day cases or inpatient admissions. They do not include:
    • Patients admitted as emergency cases;
    • Outpatients;
    • Patients undergoing a planned programme of treatment e.g. a series of admissions for chemotherapy;
    • Maternity (specialties 510 and 520);
    • Patients currently receiving inpatient treatment in hospitals but who are included on other waiting lists;
    • Patients who are temporarily suspended from waiting lists.

5. Diagnostic Service definitions

  • A diagnostic service provides an examination, test or procedure used to identify a person’s disease or condition and which allows a medical diagnosis to be made.
  • The diagnostic waiting list figures presented include people waiting for a test with a diagnostic element including tests that are part diagnostic and subsequently part therapeutic.  They do not include:
    • Patients currently admitted to a hospital bed and waiting for an emergency procedure;
    • Purely therapeutic procedures.  A therapeutic procedure is defined as a procedure which involves actual treatment of a person’s disease, condition or injury;
    • Patients undergoing a planned programme of tests;
    • Patients waiting for procedures as part of a screening programme.

6. Diagnostic Reporting Times definitions

  • The diagnostic reporting turnaround time is the length of time between the diagnostic test being undertaken and the results being verified and dispatched to the referring clinician.
  • Diagnostic reporting times apply to a selected subset of diagnostic services.  These services are: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Computerised Tomography; Non-Obstetric Ultrasound; Plain Film X-rays; Barium Studies; DEXA Scan; Radio-Nuclide Imaging; Pure Tone Audiometry; Echocardiography; Perfusion Studies; Peripheral Neurophysiology; Sleep Studies; and Urodynamics Pressures and Flows. 

7. This information was collated by Hospital Information Branch, DoH.

Further information is available from:

Hospital Information Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Stormont
BT4 3SQ

E-mail: Statistics@health-ni.gov.uk

8. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk. For out of hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt

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