Publication of the Quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case, Outpatient and Diagnostic Waiting Times Statistics - position at 31 December 2022

Date published: 23 February 2023

The Department of Health today published the quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case, Diagnostic and Outpatient Waiting Times Statistics, relating to the position at 31 December 2022.

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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.

Key facts and figures for NI Waiting Times at end of December 2022

Waiting Times for a First Outpatient Appointment

Waiting Times for Inpatient and Day Case Admission

  • The draft 2022/23 target, for inpatient and day case waiting times, states that by March 2023, 55% of patients should wait no longer than 13 weeks for inpatient or day case treatment, with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.
  • 122,267 patients were waiting to be admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland, 1.2% (1,524) fewer than at 30 September 2022 (123,791), and 1.8% (2,170) more than at 31 December 2021 (120,097).
  • An additional 2,857 patients were waiting for treatment at a Day Case Procedure Centre (DPC): 1,441 patients were waiting to be admitted to a Cataracts DPC and 1,416 patients waiting to be admitted to a Varicose Veins DPC.
  • 78.5% (96,018) of patients were waiting more than 13 weeks to be admitted for treatment, a lower proportion than that at 30 September 2022 (80.1%, 99,216) and at 31 December 2021 (81.5%, 97,850).
  • 54.2% (66,302) of patients were waiting more than 52 weeks for either an inpatient or day case admission, compared with 55.4% (68,565) at 30 September 2022, and 57.8% (69,373) at 31 December 2021.
  • During the quarter ending December 2022, 41,246 patients received inpatient and day case treatment, 4.0% (1,585) more than during the quarter ending 30 September 2022 (39,661) and 24.5% (8,127) more than during the quarter ending 31 December 2021 (33,119).

Waiting Times for a Diagnostic Service

  • The 2022/23 draft target for diagnostic waiting times states that, by March 2023, 75% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for a diagnostic test, with no patient waiting longer than 26 weeks.
  • A total of 162,047 patients were waiting for a diagnostic test, 1.2% (1,891) less than at September 2022 (163,938), and 9.6% (14,169) more than at December 2021 (147,878).
  • 54.5% (88,341) of patients were waiting more than 9 weeks for a diagnostic test, compared with 52.7% (86,463) at the end of September 2022 and 56.6% (83,643) at the end of December 2021.
  • More than a quarter (27.3%, 44,213) of patients were waiting more than 26 weeks for a diagnostic test compared with 27.0% (44,196) at September 2022 and 33.6% (49,632) at December 2021.

Diagnostic Reporting Turnaround Times

  • The draft 2022/23 target for diagnostic reporting times states that, by March 2023, all urgent diagnostic tests should be reported on within two days of the test being undertaken.
  • A total of 446,643 diagnostic tests were reported on and dispatched to the referring clinician at hospitals in Northern Ireland during the quarter ending December 2022. Of these, 22.1% (98,659) were urgent tests and the remaining 77.9% (347,984) were routine tests.
  • Of the 98,659 urgent diagnostic tests, 79.0% (77,898) were reported on within 2 days.
  • The Western HSC Trust reported the highest proportion of urgent tests within two days (89.7%), with the other HSC Trusts reporting between 65.9% (South Eastern) and 84.6% (Southern) of urgent tests within 2 days.

Notes to editors: 

1. All publications are available online at:

2. About the data

  • The sources for the data contained in this release are Departmental Information Returns, and the DoH Inpatient and Outpatient Waiting Times Datasets. These returns collect information from HSC Trusts on a quarterly basis.
  • Figures will also include privately funded patients waiting to be seen/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 17 February 2023.

3. Outpatient definitions

  • An outpatient appointment is an appointment to enable a patient to see a consultant, a member of their team or a locum for such a member, in respect of one referral.
  • The waiting list figures include all outpatients who have not had their first appointments by the end of the quarter including those who have cancelled or missed a previous appointment.
  • The outpatient waiting list figures presented do not include maternity specialties 501 (Obstetrics), 510 (Obstetrics (Ante Natal)) and 520 (Obstetrics (Post Natal)).

4. Inpatient and Day Case definitions

  • Inpatient 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.  The figures in this statistics release only include non-emergency admissions.
  • 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 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;
    • Outpatients;
    • Patients undergoing a planned programme of treatment e.g. a series of admissions for chemotherapy;
    • Maternity (specialties 510 and 520);
    • Patients currently receiving inpatient treatment in hospitals but who are included on other waiting lists;
    • Patients who are temporarily suspended from waiting lists.

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, DoH.
           Further information is available from:
           Hospital Information Branch,
           Department of Health
           Annexe 2, Castle Buildings,
           Stormont, BT4 3SQ

8. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:

9. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt.
10. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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