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Publication of the December 2012 Northern Ireland Waiting List Statistics Releases

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety today published the December 2012 Northern Ireland Waiting List Statistics Releases.
Thursday, 28 February 2013

The Waiting List Statistics Releases show detailed information on the number of people waiting for a first outpatient appointment, a diagnostic test or inpatient treatment at hospitals in Northern Ireland.

Key facts and figures for NI Waiting Times at end of December 2012

Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment

  • The 2012/13 Ministerial target relating to outpatient waiting times states that from April 2012, at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, and no patients should wait longer than 21 weeks, increasing to 60% by March 2013, and no patient waiting longer than 18 weeks.

Overall

  • The total number of people waiting for a first outpatient appointment at the end of December 2012 was 107,216.
  • This represented a decrease of 632 (-0.6%) on the number waiting at the end of September 2012 (107,848) and was down 16,884 (-13.6%) on the number waiting at the same time last year (124,100).

Proportion waiting over nine weeks

  • At the end of December 2012, 33.0% (35,333) of the total number waiting were waiting more than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, an increase from the 30.6% (33,035 out of 107,848 total patients) waiting more than nine weeks at the end of September 2012, and a decrease from the 47.8% (59,378 out of 124,100 total patients waiting) waiting at the end of December 2011.

Patients waiting longer than 21 weeks

  • The number of people waiting more than 21 weeks for a first outpatient appointment at the end of December 2012 was 7,405, 6.9% of the total number waiting. This compared with 5,610 waiting more than 21 weeks at the end of September 2012, 5.2% of the total waiting, and 24,720 (19.9%) waiting at the end of December 2011.

Completed Outpatient Waits for a First Appointment

  • A total of 135,205 patients attended a first outpatient appointment during the December 2012 quarter, an increase of 6,188 (+4.8%) on the quarter ending September 2012 (129,017) and a rise of 10,927 (+8.8%) on the quarter ending December 2011 (124,278). These figures include all activity commissioned by the Health Service in Health and Social Care hospitals and also include outpatient activity, commissioned by the Health Service, which is undertaken by the independent sector at locations other than Health and Social Care hospitals.

Waiting Times for First Appointment at an Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Service (ICATS)

Overall

  • The total number of people waiting for a first ICATS Tier 2 appointment at the end of December 2012 was 7,631. This represents a decrease of 133 (-1.7%) from the previous quarter (7,764), and an increase of 1,188 (+18.4%) from the end of December 2011 (6,443).

Proportion waiting over nine weeks

  • At the end of December 2012, 10.8% of patients were waiting more than nine weeks for a first ICATS Tier 2 appointment (826 out of 7,631 total patients waiting), compared to 9.9% of patients (769 out of 7,764 total patients waiting) waiting at the end of September 2012, and 17.7% (1,141 out of 6,443 total patients waiting) at the end of the same quarter the previous year.

Patients waiting longer than 21 weeks

  • There were 41 (0.5%) patients waiting longer than 21 weeks for a first ICATS Tier 2 appointment, compared with 72 patients (0.9%) waiting longer than 21 weeks at the end of September 2012, and 280 patients (4.3%) waiting at the end of December 2011.

Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service

  • The 2012/13 Ministerial target for diagnostic waiting times states that, from April 2012, no patient should wait longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test (13 weeks for a daycase endoscopy).

Overall

  • The total number of patients waiting at the end of December 2012 for a diagnostic service was 65,265, an increase of 2,430 (+3.9%) on the previous quarter (62,835), and a decrease of 35 (-0.05%) on the number waiting at the end of December 2011 (65,300).

Patients Waiting Longer Than the 2012/13 Diagnostic Waiting Times Target

  • At the end of December 2012, there were 13,007 patients waiting over 9/13 weeks for diagnostic services, an increase of 878 (+7.2%) on the comparable figure for the end of September 2012 (12,129), and a decrease of 2,051 (-13.6%) on the position at 31st December 2011 (15,058).

Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times

  • The Ministerial target for diagnostic reporting times states that, from April 2012, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.

Overall

  • The total number of completed diagnostic reports verified and dispatched to the referring clinician during the quarter ending 31st December 2012 was 125,755, an increase of 7,377 (+6.2%) on the previous quarter (118,378), and an increase of 12,716 (+11.2%) on the same quarter in the previous year (113,039).

Performance against 2012/13 Diagnostic Reporting Time Target

  • During the quarter ending December 2012, 90.9% of urgent diagnostic tests in Northern Ireland were reported, verified and dispatched within two days. Although the target that 100% of all urgent tests should be reported within two days was not met, each Trust managed to report on at least 84.5% of all urgent tests within two days, with the Northern HSC Trust reporting on 98.9%, compared to a rate of between 84.5% and 90.9% for all other Trusts.

Diagnostic Reporting Time Indicators of Performance

  • The 2012/13 Ministerial indicators of performance for diagnostic reporting times refer to (i) the percentage of routine diagnostic tests reported on within 2 weeks of the test being undertaken, and (ii) the percentage of routine diagnostic tests reported on within 4 weeks of the test being undertaken.
  • 99.1% of routine diagnostic tests were reported, verified and dispatched within four weeks (with 96.1% of routine diagnostic tests reported, verified and dispatched within two weeks). Each Trust managed to report at least 98.2% of all routine tests within four weeks.

Waiting Times for Inpatient Admission

  • The Ministerial target, for inpatient waiting times, states that from April 2012, at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment, and no patient should wait longer than 36 weeks, increasing to 60% by March 2013, and no patient waiting longer than 30 weeks for treatment.

Overall

  • The total number of patients waiting for treatment at the end of December 2012 was 51,211.
  • This total has increased by 491 (+1.0%) compared with the previous quarter (50,720), and has fallen by 5,259 (-9.3%) compared with the same quarter in the previous year (56,470).

Patients waiting over 13 weeks

  • At the end of December 2012, there were 18,354 (35.8%) patients waiting more than 13 weeks for inpatient treatment. This number represented a decrease of 1,987 on the figure for the previous quarter (20,341), and was down 5,814 on the number waiting over 13 weeks at the end of December 2011 (24,168).
  • The proportion of people waiting more than 13 weeks for inpatient admission was 35.8% (18,354 out of 51,211 total patients waiting), compared to 40.1% at the end of September 2012 (20,341 out of 50,720 total patients waiting) and 42.8% at the end of December 2011 (24,168 out of 56,470 total patients waiting).

Patients waiting over 36 weeks

  • There were 2,243 patients waiting longer than 36 weeks for inpatient admission at the end of December 2012, an increase of 214 on the previous quarter (2,029), and down 2,770 on the number waiting over 36 weeks at the same time last year (5,013).

Completed Inpatient Waits

  • A total of 53,813 inpatients were admitted to hospital, following an inpatient wait, during the December 2012 quarter. This was an increase of 4,083 (+8.2%) on the quarter ending September 2012 (49,730) and was up 2,671 (+5.2%) on the quarter ending December 2011 (51,142). These figures include all activity commissioned by the Health Service in Health and Social Care hospitals and also include inpatient activity, commissioned by the Health Service, which is undertaken by the independent sector at locations other than Health and Social Care hospitals.

Notes to editors:

1. All publications are available on the DHSSPS website

2. About the data

  • The sources for the data contained in this release are the Departmental Information Returns CH3, QOAR, SDR1, DRTT, IS1, the DHSSPS Inpatient and ICATS Waiting Times Datasets and the Hospital Inpatient System Dataset. These returns collect information from HSC Trusts and the Health and Social Care Board on a quarterly basis.
  • Figures include all privately funded patients waiting for treatment in Health Service hospitals and those patients who are resident outside Northern Ireland.
  • Data incorporate all returns and amendments received from HSC Trusts up to 15th February 2013.

3. Outpatient definitions

  • An outpatient appointment is to enable a patient to see a consultant or member of their firm.
  • The waiting list figures include all outpatients who have not had their first appointments by the end of the quarter.
  • Outpatient waiting list figures presented do not include maternity specialties 501 (Obstetrics), 510 (Obstetrics (Ante Natal)) and 520 (Obstetrics (Post Natal)).

4. Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services (ICATS) definitions

  • From 1st April 2010, a number of Integrated Clinical Assessment and Treatment Services (ICATS) were officially introduced within the Health Service in Northern Ireland. ICATS is the term used for a range of outpatient type services for patients, which are provided by integrated multi-disciplinary teams of health service professionals, including GPs with a special interest, specialist nurses and allied health professionals. They are provided in a variety of primary, community and secondary care settings and they include assessment, treatment, diagnostic and advisory services.

5. Diagnostic Service definitions

  • A diagnostic service provides an examination, test or procedure used to identify a person’s disease or condition and which allows a medical diagnosis to be made.
  • The diagnostic waiting list figures presented include people waiting for a test with a diagnostic element including tests that are part diagnostic and subsequently part therapeutic. They do not include:

a. Patients currently admitted to a hospital bed and waiting for an emergency procedure;
b. Purely therapeutic procedures. A therapeutic procedure is defined as a procedure which involves actual treatment of a person’s disease, condition or injury;
c. Patients undergoing a planned programme of tests;
d. Patients waiting for procedures as part of a screening programme.

6. Diagnostic Reporting Times definitions

  • The diagnostic reporting turnaround time is the length of time between the diagnostic test being undertaken and the results being verified and dispatched to the referring clinician.
  • The diagnostic reporting time target applies to a selected subset of diagnostic services. These services are: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Computerised Tomography; Non-Obstetric Ultrasound; Barium Studies; DEXA Scan; Radio-Nuclide Imaging; Pure Tone Audiometry; Echocardiography; Perfusion Studies; Peripheral Neurophysiology; Sleep Studies; and Urodynamics Pressures and Flows.

7. Inpatient definitions

  • Ordinary admissions include both (a) patients admitted electively with the expectation that they will remain in hospital for at least one night, and (b) non-elective admissions (e.g. emergency admissions). A patient who is admitted with either of the above intentions, but who leaves hospital for any reason without staying overnight, is still counted as an ordinary admission. Day cases are not included.
  • Day Cases are patients admitted electively during the course of a day with the intention of receiving care who do not require the use of a hospital bed overnight and who return home as scheduled. If this original intention is not fulfilled and the patient stays overnight, such a patient is counted as an ordinary admission.
  • The waiting list inpatient figures presented include people waiting to be admitted as inpatients either as day cases or ordinary admissions. They do not include:

a. Patients admitted as emergency cases;
b. Outpatients;
c. Patients undergoing a planned programme of treatment e.g. a series of admissions for chemotherapy;
d. Maternity (specialties 510 and 520);
e. Patients already in hospitals but included on other waiting lists;
f. Patients who are temporarily suspended from waiting lists.

8. This information was collated by Hospital Information Branch, DHSSPS.

Further information is available from:
Hospital Information Branch,
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety,
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings,
Stormont, BT4 3SQ

Telephone: 028 90 523264
E-mail: Statistics@dhsspsni.gov.uk
Internet: http://www.dhsspsni.gov.uk/index/stats_research/hospital-stats.htm

9. Media queries to DHSSPS Press Office on 02890 520074, or out of hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be returned.