Northern Ireland neurology waiting lists under pressure
‘The number of people waiting for a first neurology outpatient appointment has more than doubled in Northern Ireland in the past four years’, reported the BBC last week.
The information produced as the result of a review of neurology services in Northern Ireland, found that 19,376 people are currently waiting for a first appointment in a neurological department, whilst more than 11,000 of them have been waiting for more than a year for that appointment.
Staff shortages across neurology departments is contributing to the problem, and the review report also notes that these shortages extend to nursing staff with Northern Ireland having significantly fewer specialist nurses for MS, Parkinson’s and epilepsy than is recommended by healthcare guidelines.
The interim report opens with a comment from the chair of the review team, Dr John Craig, saying:
‘The need for change, as explored in this report, is clear. The service currently falls short in meeting demand, in workforce and in meeting the needs and expectations of people with neurological conditions and their carers.
There is significant work to do in respect of each.
The scale of the challenge should not be underestimated.’
The Department of Health has responded that they hoped to secure additional funding for more junior doctors in neurology in the future.