The Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at 31st March 2019 for Outpatients and Diagnostic Testing.
The Northern Ireland Waiting Time Statistics: Inpatient and Day Case Waiting Times Report for quarter ending March 2019 originally due to be published on 30th May 2019 will now be published on Friday 7th June 2019. This is to facilitate additional processing of the data to take account of changes in operational service delivery and concomitant changes in how Inpatient and Day Case waiting times are recorded.
The Waiting Times Statistics releases show detailed information on the number of people waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment or a diagnostic test at hospitals in Northern Ireland.
Key facts and figures for NI Waiting Times at end of March 2019
Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment
- The 2018/19 Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times states that by March 2019, 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 31st March 2019, a total of 288,754 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 2.5% (7,003) more than at 31st December 2018 (281,751) and 7.0% (18,920) more than at 31st March 2018 (269,834).
- Over three quarters (74.0%, 213,708) of patients were waiting more than 9 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment at 31st March 2019, compared with 75.9% (213,758) at 31st December 2018 and 73.5% (198,296) at 31st March 2018.
- At 31st March 2019, 33.9% (97,851) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, compared with 33.7% (94,953) at 31st December 2018, and 30.9% (83,392) at 31st March 2018.
- During the quarter ending March 2019, there were 122,080 attendances for a first outpatient appointment, an decrease of 3.7% (4,665) on the number seen during the quarter ending December 2018 (126,745), and 1.0% (1,215) less than during the quarter ending March 2018 (123,295).
Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service
- The draft 2018/19 Ministerial target for diagnostic waiting times states that, by March 2019, 75% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with no patient waiting longer than 26 weeks.
- At 31st March 2019, a total of 130,351 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test, 3.2% (4,063) more than at 31st December 2018 (126,288), and 22.3% (23,735) more than at 31st March 2018.
- Almost half (49.4%, 64,360) of patients were waiting longer than 9 weeks for a diagnostic test at 31st March 2019, compared with 51.3% (64,831) at 31st December 2018 and 41.1% (43,852) at 31st March 2018.
- At 31st March 2019, 21.7% (28,310) of patients were waiting more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test compared with 22.2% (28,015) at 31st December 2018 and 16.0% (17,065) at 31st March 2018.
Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times
- The draft 2018/19 Ministerial target for diagnostic reporting times states that, by March 2019, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.
- A total of 413,137 diagnostic tests were reported on and dispatched to the referring clinician at hospitals in Northern Ireland during the quarter ending March 2019, 2.8% (11,877) fewer than the quarter ending December 2018 (425,014), and 0.4% (1,854) fewer than the quarter ending March 2018 (414,991).
- Of the 58,907 urgent diagnostic tests reported on during quarter ending March 2019, 86.1% (50,705) were reported on within 2 days.
- The Northern HSC Trust reported the highest proportion of urgent tests within two days (93.0%), with the other HSC Trusts reporting between 78.4% and 91.9% 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 and DRTT. 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 23rd May 2019.
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. 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.
5. 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; Radionuclide Imaging; Pure Tone Audiometry; Echocardiography; Perfusion Studies; Peripheral Neurophysiology; Sleep Studies; and Urodynamics Pressures and Flows.
6. This information was collated by Hospital Information Branch, DoH.
Further information is available from:
Hospital Information Branch
Department of Health
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