04/12/2003

Hospital inpatient waiting lists continue to fall

Hospital inpatient waiting lists are now at their lowest since March 2001 and have fallen by 10% over the past twelve months, it was revealed today.

Figures released by the Department of Health in Northern Ireland today showed that waiting lists have now fallen for the fourth consecutive quarter while the number of people waiting for more than 18 months has now fallen by almost 30% over the last year.

While welcoming the news, Health Minister, Angela Smith warned there was still a long way to go before waiting lists were at an acceptable level. She said: “There is still a long way to go. The most immediate task is to maintain this momentum.

"Although the reductions in inpatient waiting are very welcome, the number of people waiting for outpatient appointments continues to rise, and that is something we need to tackle now that we have made such solid progress on inpatient waiting."

Referring to reductions in the numbers of people waiting for cardiac surgery the Minister said: “The news that the number of people waiting for cardiac operations has reduced is very welcome - people needing heart surgery are now getting their operations quicker and that will be very reassuring to the public.

"In the past year alone, waiting lists for cardiac surgery have been cut by nearly 50%."

The Minister concluded by saying that local boards and trusts are implementing a wide range of waiting list initiatives to reduce the numbers waiting for hospital treatment and to shorten waiting times. Measures have also been introduced to manage waiting lists more effectively, she added.

(MB)

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