15 June 2023

lengthening NHS waiting lists

Written by Stephanie Johnston

The issue of lengthening NHS waiting lists is never far from the news. The impact this has on those waiting for treatment can be compounded by a lack of communication received whilst waiting for an appointment/procedure.

The Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman recently undertook an ‘own initiative’ investigation into communication with patients on healthcare waiting lists. The Ombudsman’s investigation found that Health and Social Care Trusts across Northern Ireland consistently failed to acknowledge receipt of a patient’s referral when they received it, even though there was a procedure for updating people on waiting lists.

The Ombudsman has made a number of recommendations, including that updates should be issued to anyone waiting six months or more and that every Trust website should have a ‘Waiting List information’ section containing relevant information for patients.

The Ombudsman will continue to engage with the Department of Health and the Health and Social Care Trusts over the next 12 months to ensure progress is made with the implementation of the recommendations.

You can view the Ombudsman’s Report in full via the following link: Communications with patients on healthcare waiting lists • Office of the Northern Ireland Ombudsman (nipso.org.uk)

If you would like any further information or advice, please contact Stephanie Johnston from the Healthcare team.

*This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

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