East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party Assemblyman Roy Beggs has welcomed assurances provided to him by the Health & Social Care Board that the regional roll out of the Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment & Referral Service (NIPEARS) to address one of the longest specialist waiting lists, is to extend to both the Northern and South Eastern Trusts by the end of the current financial year.
Roy Beggs MLA said “I am aware of the excessively long waiting lists for eye treatment and the positive effects of specialist eye treatment provided locally by the new Northern Ireland Primary Eyecare Assessment & Referral Service (NIPEARS). NI PEARS also provides secondary care Ophthalmology services where necessary.
23,506 Ophthalmology patients in Northern Ireland as of the 31st March 2018 were awaiting their 1st consultant led outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland. 18,784 of which have waited over 9 weeks, with approximately 40% (9,537) of the total patients still waiting for their first consultant led appointment a year later. In the Northern Trust, over a quarter (28.2%) of patients across all specialties are still waiting for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment after 52 weeks. Roy Beggs said “These figures indicate the high level of pressure on waiting lists across all specialties to include Ophthalmology services, which encompasses primary eye care assessment.”
NI PEARS had been introduced into 3 Trusts in Northern Ireland but had not been introduced into the Northern or the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust. Roy Beggs said “I was concerned that my constituents are suffering delays yet no confirmation had been made that the service would be rolled out regionally and so I contacted the Health & Social Care Board.”
The East Antrim UUP MLA added “I am pleased that in their response, the Health & Social Care Board have advised me that the remaining two LCG/Trust areas (Northern and South-Eastern) will have the primary eye care service extended to them during this financial year.