A reduction in the waiting times for outpatient appointments at Noble’s Hospital has been welcomed by the Minister for Health and Social Care, Howard Quayle MHK.
The number of first outpatient appointments that people were waiting for reduced by over 750 – approximately 10% – between February 2014 and April 2015. The reduction in the overall amount means that a number of patients are being seen sooner.
The Minister said:
'This is welcome news and reflects the effort that has been put into reducing waiting times. This has been achieved through a combination of measures such as cleansing data to ensure that referrals are appropriate and still required, reallocating resources where possible to reduce waiting times that are particularly high, and adapting ways of working to improve efficiency and ensure that patients don’t miss their appointments.'
'We need to examine ways of maintaining this momentum and extending this achievement to inpatient appointments as well. This will include reviewing demand and capacity and exploring new ways of working to increase throughput. Innovations in care delivery is one area we can explore, such as moving less complex care to the community setting and delivering some care through telemedicine, in line with Government’s new Digital Strategy.
The Minister continued:
'Reducing waiting times is never easy, there is no single solution, and the constraints on capacity as a result of our finite resources will always be a determining factor. So whilst we are moving in the right direction and making progress, waiting times will remain an ongoing challenge.'
Despite welcoming the decrease, the Minister accepted that certain waiting times were still too long and that some had increased, while others had reduced:
'We have targeted improvements at outpatient clinics which had the longest waiting times, such as orthopaedics and dermatology, where the numbers waiting have reduced by 27% and 38% respectively.
'Around 50% of people attend their first outpatient appointment within two months of referral, but some still aren’t being seen as quickly as we’d like and the work to address this continues.'