Health Minister Simon Hamilton today announced a further £30m of additional funding to go directly towards tackling waiting lists.
This follows on from the investment of £40m at the end of 2015 and an extra £2m recently announced to assist autism waits. Mr Hamilton has also revealed that provisional waiting list times for February 2016 show that the number of people waiting for inpatient and outpatient appointments is falling.
The Minister said: “It is unacceptable that people are waiting too long, and dealing with these waiting lists is one of my key priorities.
“That is why for the early part of 2016/17 I am allocating a further £30m to continue tackling waiting lists. This additional funding will support up to 25,000 additional assessments and some 12,000 additional treatments across a wide range of specialities including orthopaedics, gastroenterology, neurology and ENT.
“Importantly it will see a £10m investment in diagnostic services, building capacity to support up to 50,000 additional tests to help meet increasing demands as well as supporting seven day services.
“Our Trusts already provide 600,000 inpatient and day case admissions, and 1.5 million consultant-led outpatient attendances each year. But it is clear that it will take time and significant non recurrent and recurrent investment to bring waiting lists back to an acceptable level whilst simultaneously increasing capacity to meet increasing demand. My commitment today to an additional £30m is an important step to ensuring continued progress.
“This further £30m follows the Executive’s earlier allocation of £40m. The combined £70m will ensure in the region of 150,000 extra assessments, tests and procedures. Also many children awaiting assessment for autism will benefit from the £2m I recently allocated for this specific area.
“Provisional figures for February 2016 show that those waiting more than 18 weeks for an outpatient appointment have fallen by 6% and those waiting longer than 26 weeks for an inpatient day case has fallen by 13%. It is clear that the investments we are directing towards waiting lists are making a difference. Slowly but surely we are getting to grips with waiting lists.”