NI waiting lists paint a very bleak picture for patients, says RCGPNI

Publication date: 27 August 2020

Commenting on the waiting list figures covering the quarter to 30 June 2020, RCGPNI Chair Dr Laurence Dorman said: "Waiting lists in Northern Ireland have been completely unacceptable for years, and unfortunately COVID-19 has made a bad situation worse. The current waiting list figures paint a very bleak picture, and behind each number is a person whose quality of life is being badly affected.

"General practice has remained open throughout the entire pandemic and GPs are working harder than ever caring for, supporting and protecting our patients.

"Patients regularly contact their GP, as they wait for assessment or treatment, to support them with issues including pain management, risk of falls and their original condition worsening. GPs also become involved in requests to help speed up services and as advocates for our patients, we do all we can to help. This extra workload for GPs means there are fewer available appointments for other patients and less time to spend with those who are most complex and vulnerable, such as the elderly and patients with advanced life limiting illnesses.  

"Frequently patients feel they have no choice but to explore private care options, however this is not an option for everyone. All patients must have equal access to the treatment they need through our National Health Service. We cannot see health inequalities in Northern Ireland widen even further as a result of our appalling waiting lists.

"It is essential that waiting lists are addressed as we start rebuilding our health services. Innovative solutions must be found to ensure that patients needing escalation of care can be seen by a specialist quickly and that patients already waiting for care get this delivered in a timely fashion. 

"The pandemic has highlighted the benefits and importance of all staff in our Health and Social Care system working collaboratively together. Work is underway as part of the transformation agenda to reform our health services and general practice will continue to play its part to ensure patients receive a better service."

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 52,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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