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Waiting times for orthopaedic care in Northern Ireland are set to grow

31 July 2015 - 9:45am

The CSP’s public affairs and policy manager for Northern Ireland, Tom Sullivan, called for changes to the way patients access NHS services during a discussion on BBC Radio Ulster.

orth-ni

The Health and Social Care Board say that Northern Ireland’s NHS does not have the capacity to meet patient demand for orthopaedic surgery

He told the Talkback programme on 22 July there was ‘huge demand’ on services and the NHS needed to ‘make better use of the skills that other professionals (than doctors) have, such as physiotherapists and other AHPs’.

The pressures on the NHS in Northern Ireland were evident in documents leaked to the BBC. They showed that patients at Musgrave Park Hospital in Belfast were waiting 18 months for an appointment and waiting times for knee and hip appointments exceed 12 months.

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board told Frontline that Northern Ireland’s NHS does not have the capacity to meet patient demand for orthopaedic surgery.

‘Elective care waiting times had been improving over the last number of years. However the position has deteriorated since 2014/15,’ she said.

‘This is due to a number of factors including a year-on-year increase in referrals of approximately six per cent and the impact of the wider financial position.’

The board expects to see a continued increase in the number of patients waiting longer than the standard maximum waiting time for elective care, according to the spokesperson.

Mr Sullivan told Talkback about the physiotherapy self-referral pilot in the South Eastern Trust, which was launched on 15 June, and said direct access to physiotherapy needs to be ‘mainstreamed across all the trusts in Northern Ireland’.

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