Govt Paid Consultants £250,000 To Reduce Waiting Lists With No Impact

Almost £250,000 paid out to consultants as part of a strategy to cut waiting lists at hospitals across Northern Ireland has had no impact, an Audit Office investigation has discovered.

The Southern Trust forked out the £247,000 as part of the Waiting List Initiative (WLI).

Health professionals employed to fulfill the work and help reduce demand completed all the work allocated to them in the evening and weekend clinics, but not enough appointments were scheduled to justify the expenditure.

The revelation was published on Tuesday 18 December in the General Report on the Health and Social Care sector.

Concluding the review, the Comptroller and Auditor General Kieran Donnelly warned that "the health and social care system, as currently configured, is simply unable to cope with the demands being placed on it".
News Image
He continued: "Consequently, far too many patients endured unacceptable long waiting times for treatment. My report makes the urgency of the reform agenda clear and emphasises the need for long term financial planning in the health sector."

The audit of the WLI payments made by the Southern Trust from April 2015 to March 2016 identified that the public body had "entered into an agreement with consultants which was based on the number of cases it expected to be completed during 4 hour in-house sessions".

The report found that while six out of eight consultants were paid for 3,856 hours (964 WLI sessions), the Trust only received 2,162 productive hours. They say this resulted in "1,694 hours at a cost of £247,000 being paid where the Trust received no impact on waiting lists".

Mr Donnelly added: "Since we last reported, performance in respect of key waiting time targets has clearly been very disappointing. Going forward, I can only conclude that the rising demand for services, which is increasingly exceeding health service capacity, together with ongoing uncertainty over future funding, will significantly impact on the ability of HSC Trusts to meet future population need."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

23 July 2021
Police Ombudsman Report Further Evidence Against Amnesty Proposal
The findings of a Police Ombudsman report into the 1993 murder of Damien Walsh is "further evidence" that the UK Government's amnesty proposals "are a bad idea", Alliance MLA John Blair has said.
21 July 2021
Irish Report On Protocol Downplays Serious And Endemic Disruption
A report by the Institute of Irish Studies downplays the serious and endemic disruption caused by the Protocol to relationships between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, DUP North Antrim MP Ian Paisley has claimed.
02 September 2005
Outpatient hospital waiting list figures rise
The number of people waiting for a first outpatient appointment has increased in the last three months by almost 6%. The figures published by the Department of Health revealed that the number of patients waiting for an initial outpatient consultation had risen by 9,385 to 176,523, an increase of 5.6% on the previous quarter.
22 July 2015
Call For Action Plan To Be Implemented To Deal With Hospital Waiting Lists
Sinn Féin is calling for an action plan to be implemented to deal with hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland. Chair of the Assembly's health committee, MLA Maeve McLaughlin, said the rise in waiting times is "not acceptable" for patients.
02 March 2006
Inpatient waiting lists reach ten-year low
Waiting lists for inpatients and day-patients have reached their lowest in ten years, Health Minister Shaun Woodward revealed today. The number of people waiting over a year for appointments has almost dropped by 50% over the past quarter.