The Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case, Diagnostic and Outpatient Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at 30 June 2023.
The Waiting Times Statistics releases show detailed information on the number of people waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, a diagnostic test and inpatient or day case treatment at hospitals in Northern Ireland.
Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment
- The draft 2023/24 target relating to outpatient waiting times states that by March 2024, at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.
- 416,022 patients were waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, 3.7% (14,821) more than at 31 March 2023 (401,201) and 10.1% (38,265) more than at 30 June 2022 (377,757).
- The median waiting time was 52.4 weeks and the 95th percentile was 251.6 weeks (approximately 4 years and 43 weeks).
- 82.1% (341,715) of patients were waiting more than 9 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, a higher proportion than 81.3% (326,241) at 31 March 2023 and 81.6% (308,304) at 30 June 2022.
- 49.0% (203,682) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, a slightly lower proportion than 49.2% (197,345) at 31 March 2023, and 51.5% (194,685) at 30 June 2022.
Waiting Times for Inpatient and Day Case Admission
- The draft 2023/24 target, for inpatient and day case waiting times, states that by March 2024, 55% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.
- 119,095 patients were waiting to be admitted for inpatient or day case treatment in Northern Ireland, 2.3% (2,784) fewer than at 31 March 2023 (121,879), and 6.6% (8,446) fewer than at 30 June 2022 (127,541).
- The median waiting time was 58.3 weeks and the 95th percentile was 273.3 weeks (approximately 5 years and 13 weeks).
- 77.8% (92,713) of patients were waiting more than 13 weeks to be admitted for treatment, a slightly higher percentage than that at 31 March 2023 (77.4%, 94,305) and a lower percentage than at 30 June 2022 (80.2%, 102,310).
- 52.8% (62,856) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks to be admitted for treatment, a slightly lower percentage than 52.9% (64,513) at 31 March 2023, and 55.8% (71,210) at 30 June 2022.
Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service
- The 2023/24 draft target for diagnostic waiting times states that, by March 2024, 75% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with no patient waiting longer than 26 weeks.
- 188,881 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test, 9.0% (15,639) more than at 31 March 2023 (173,242), and 13.5% (22,471) more than at 30 June 2022 (166,410).
- 55.5% (104,776) of patients were waiting more than 9 weeks for a diagnostic test, a higher percentage than 51.7% (89,587) at 31 March 2023 and 52.6% (87,480) at 30 June 2022.
- 28.2% (53,298) of patients were waiting more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test, a higher percentage than 26.8% (46,511) at 31 March 2023 and 27.1% (45,082) at 30 June 2022.
Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times
- The draft 2023/24 target for diagnostic reporting times states that, by March 2024, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.
- 458,178 diagnostic tests were reported on and dispatched to the referring clinician at hospitals in Northern Ireland during the quarter ending June 2023. Of these, 22.4% (102,450) were urgent tests and the remaining 77.6% (355,728) were routine tests.
- Of the 102,450 urgent diagnostic tests, 78.7% (80,654) were reported on within 2 days.
Notes to editors:
1. Publications are available online at:
2. About the Data
- The sources for the data contained in these releases are:
- HSC Trust’s Patient Administration Systems
- DoH Outpatient Waiting Times Dataset
- DoH CH3, QOAR, R-QOAR, V-QOAR and IS1_1 outpatient activity returns
- DoH Inpatient Waiting Times Dataset
- Hospital Inpatient System
- DoH IS1_2 inpatient activity return
- DoH SDR1 diagnostics return
- DOH DRTT diagnostics return
3. Outpatient Definitions
An outpatient appointment is to enable a patient to see a consultant or a member of their team following an outpatient referral. The majority of referrals will be from a GP however they may also be received from a range of other sources.
These appointments provide an opportunity for consultation, investigation and minor treatment. Appointments can be face-to-face or virtual and patients are not admitted into hospital.
A first attendance is the first of a series or the only attendance at an outpatient service.
Waiting time for a first outpatient appointment begins on the date the HSC Trust receives a referral to a consultant led service.
4. Inpatient and Day Case Definitions
Inpatient and day case waiting list data comprise the number of patients waiting for inpatient and day case admission to hospital.
Inpatient admissions are patients admitted electively with the expectation that they will remain in hospital for at least one night.
Day case admissions are patients admitted electively with the expectation that although they may require supervised recovery, they do not require the use of a hospital bed overnight and will return home as scheduled the same day.
Waiting time begins from the date the clinician decided to admit the patient.
The waiting list figures presented include people waiting to be admitted as inpatients either as day cases or inpatient admissions. They do not include:
- Patients admitted as emergency cases
- Patients waiting for planned admission i.e. patients given proposed date of admission determined by social or clinical criteria
- Patients undergoing a planned programme of treatment e.g. a series of admissions for chemotherapy
- Patients waiting for admission as a regular day or night attender
- Patients waiting for maternity specialties (except where the intention is to terminate the pregnancy)
- Patients waiting who are currently admitted for another reason
- Patients who are temporarily suspended for medical or social reasons
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:
- Patients currently admitted to a hospital bed and waiting for an emergency procedure
- Purely therapeutic procedures. A therapeutic procedure is defined as a procedure which involves actual treatment of a person’s disease, condition or injury
- Patients undergoing a planned programme of tests
- 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.
Diagnostic reporting times apply to a selected subset of diagnostic services. These services are: Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Computerised Tomography; Non-Obstetric Ultrasound; Plain Film X-rays; Barium Studies; DEXA Scan; Radionuclide Imaging; Pure Tone Audiometry; Echocardiography; Perfusion Studies; Peripheral Neurophysiology; Sleep Studies; and Urodynamics Pressures and Flows.
7. This information was collated by Hospital Information Branch, Department of Health.
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