‘Demands beyond capacity’ fuelling lengthy delays – SHSCT

April 11, 2016

The Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT) has said the suspension of additional clinics within hospitals and the independent sector, coupled with a rise in demand for services, has led to an unprecedented increase in waiting times for hospital services.

A spokesperson from the Trust made the admission in response to an inquiry from The Examiner after we were contacted by an angry reader who has been forced to wait more than six months for an appointment with an ENT consultant.

Further examination revealed waiting times for almost every health department are far in excess of government guidelines, with some patients waiting up to two years to see a specialist doctor.

When asked to explain the current waiting times within the Southern Trust area and how they are reflective of current government guidelines, a SHSCT spokesperson said it regretted the increasing waiting times being experienced by patients and that demand for hospital services across Northern Ireland was continuing to grow “beyond the capacity that is currently available”.

“A decision was taken (in July 2014) by The Health & Social Care Board to suspend additional clinics within our hospitals and within the Independent Sector due to the financial constraints within public services in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, the loss of this capacity coupled with a further rise in demand for services has led to increased waiting times for all specialties,” the spokesperson said.

“Some additional recent funding was secured as part of November monitoring and is being used to address waiting times for both outpatient and treatment waits.

“We are continuing to work with the Health and Social Care Board (which commissions services for the public) to do everything possible to reduce waiting times for our patients.”