Waiting list initiative delivers cut in waiting times – Swann

Date published: 25 October 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann has welcomed a successful initiative that has more than halved the outpatient waiting list for foot and ankle patients.

The regional Foot and Ankle (F&A) Waiting List Initiative was launched a year ago following publication of the Elective Care Framework in June 2021. The work has seen an overall reduction of 52% in the F&A outpatient waiting list, a 64% reduction in the number of patients waiting over 52 weeks and a reduction of 68% in the number of patients waiting over two years.

Under the initiative, patients are assessed by a new multi-disciplinary team and the appropriate treatment is delivered. Those who need surgery are referred to a Consultant.

The Minister said: “These are very impressive results for the Foot and Ankle Waiting List initiative and I want to commend those who led this work and drove the initiative forward. It shows what can be done with focus, innovative thinking and clever, targeted use of resources.

“Given the success of the F&A initiative, I am pleased to announce that work is now ongoing to address the regional waiting list for orthopaedic hand referrals. The focus will be on short term, collaborative actions which will consider the most appropriate treatment methods for individuals currently waiting, reduce the length of time they’re waiting for treatment, as well as the number of people on the waiting list.

“This will involve exploring different service models to ensure all available resources across the orthopaedic specialism are maximised, to provide the best and most appropriate care for the population of Northern Ireland, including regional approaches and cross-Trust working.”

The new project focusing on orthopaedic hand referrals will run for six months and it is hoped it will lead to a significant reduction in the hand referral waiting list.

The Minister concluded: “When I published the Elective Care Framework in June 2021, I was clear that we owe it to patients and our Health and Social care staff to push ahead with a relentless drive to bring down waiting times. The pandemic has shown what the HSC can do in a crisis and we have learned that taking an imaginative and innovative approach produces new ways of working that deliver real benefits to patients. We will continue to develop opportunities to consolidate and transform our outpatient services to reduce waiting times and improve patient experience.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. In November 2021, there were 2,858 waiters on the Belfast HSC Trust Outpatient Waiting List.  By September 2022, this had been reduced by 1,597 to 1,261 waiters. Long waiters (those waiting over 52 weeks) have now been reduced.
  2. For media enquiries please contact the DoH Press Office by email pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk.
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