One of the side effects of the Covid-19 pandemic has been to extend already long waiting lists in Northern Ireland. That is understandable to an extent due to the lockdown and restrictions that have been required. However, what is not understandable is that the waiting lists in Northern Ireland are currently significantly longer than in England, which means that patients in Northern Ireland are likely to face longer waits for treatment than their English counterparts. Patients in Northern Ireland are therefore more likely to experience harm as a result of having to wait much longer for treatment. The recent figures on the topic indicate that nearly 90% of NI patients are waiting longer than the targeting waiting time. For urgent diagnostic tests, 92% of patients are not meeting the two day target time.
It is important to be aware that, whether a patient lives in Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, or Wales, they are entitled to the same standard of care. The fact that patients in NI are being forced to wait significantly longer for sometimes urgent treatment, putting them at increased risk of harm, when patients in a similar position elsewhere in the UK are being treated, is unacceptable. The standard of care across the UK should be uniform. Patients, regardless of their location, are entitled to the same standard of care. The current pandemic has exacerbated an already existing problem in Northern Ireland and unfortunately that will result in avoidable harm for many patients.
If you or a family member has suffered harm as a result of a delay in obtaining treatment, please do not hesitate to contact our Healthcare Team for advice.