TopicsHealth & WellbeingNorthern Ireland: ‘endless’ waiting lists for paediatric outpatients

Northern Ireland: ‘endless’ waiting lists for paediatric outpatients

Outpatient waiting times for children increased by 172.6% between 2016 and 2023, according to a report from RCPCH Ireland.

The report, Worried and Waiting, also revealed the concerning amount of children who have been waiting over a year for a treatment. In June 2016, there were 578 ongoing waits over 52 weeks, rising to 6326 in June 2023.

RCPCH say these wait times are ‘profoundly damaging’ for treatment, affecting the mental and physical development of children, as well as impacting their education and overall wellbeing.

Recommendations outlined in the report include a review of the child health system, reducing poverty and health inequalities, stronger workforce planning, and improving the collection, sharing and utilisation of child health data.

Dr Ray Nethercott, RCPCH Officer for Ireland said: ‘Northern Ireland currently has the lowest spend on children of any other UK country overall. We cannot ignore the fact that our children are being let down. But we can begin reversing this devastating trend by taking a ‘whole child’ approach to service provision, workforce planning and in reducing poverty.

He continued: ‘The child health workforce is working hard to match the demand put on services, but without further support and resourcing they will never make a meaningful dent. Our new Assembly gives us the perfect opportunity to fix these issues and invest in our future by investing in our children.’

The full report can be found here.

Look out for an in-depth Community Practitioner feature exploring the pressing issues surrounding children’s health in the next (May/June) issue.

Image | Shutterstock


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