Nearly 300000 Northern Ireland patients waiting for outpatient appointment with consultant







by James Gant

November 29 2018

Nearly 300,000 people in Northern Ireland were waiting for a consultant-led outpatient appointment in the three months until October, a new report has revealed.

The figures from the Department of Health – from June 30 to September 30 – found the total number of patients waiting for their first meeting was 283,497.

This had risen by 2.8% since the quarterly report in June and by 4% since September 2017’s results were revealed.

It includes privately funded patients waiting to be seen in Health Service hospitals.

A statement from the Health and Social Care Board said: “Patients have every right to expect and demand timely care. Unfortunately, for reasons that have been well documented, our system is not currently configured to provide that.”

It added: “The only sustainable solution to this is transformation.”

There were 212,985 outpatients who had to wait more than nine weeks for their first meeting with a consultant – rising from 203,478 in last September’s quarterly findings.

On top of this, the number of outpatients who had waited over a year to see a consultant was more than a third, at 94,222.

This has risen from 88,598 in the June report and 73,380 last September – a 6% leap.

Ministers have set a target for at least 50% of outpatients to wait less than nine weeks for their first appointment and no one to wait more than a year by March 2019.

Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA warned “the crisis in local hospital waiting times is compromising the safety of patients right across Northern Ireland”.

He said: “The number of people who are waiting far longer than even the maximum permitted time is at an unprecedented and terrifyingly high level.”

There was also a decrease in the number of outpatients who did have their first appointments in the time frame.

From June to September, only 116,469 patients were seen which showed a 6% downturn from the quarter ending on June 30.

Inpatient and day cases did not fare better.

The latest report revealed that as many as 86,219 inpatients or day cases were waiting for admission to hospital.

This was an increase of 3% since the June results and nearly 15% since last September’s statistics.

Nearly 67% had to wait longer than 13 weeks, up from 63% in June’s report and 62.5% since last September’s.

Diagnostic services – a test used to determine a person’s condition – showed the Department of Health have a lot to do to reach their target of 75% seen in under nine weeks.

The findings for the three months up to the end of September showed over half (51%) were still waiting more than nine weeks.

A positive note was the time it took for patients to receive results from tests.

Targets for March 2019 are for all results to be given to the patient within two days of an examination.

And the September results saw that 84% of urgent diagnostic reports were sent within this time frame.

Margaret Carr, Cancer Research UK’s public affairs manager in Northern Ireland, said: “Waiting for a test after you’ve received an urgent referral for suspected cancer is a tough time for anyone, more so if your wait is very long.

“We would like to see a comprehensive audit of these services to pinpoint where problems exist, with a plan for improvement.”

The Hospital Information Branch in the Department of Health collated the figures for the report.

They are gathered from HSC Trusts and the Health and Social Care Board on a quarterly basis.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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Irish League legend Roy McDonald shares pain at losing three brothers



Roy McDonald
Roy McDonald

Roy McDonald

By Graham Luney

January 18 2019

Irish League legend Roy McDonald has revealed how he coped with the deaths of three brothers, including former Northern Ireland and Queens Park Rangers captain Alan.

Alan, who steered Glentoran to their last championship success in 2009, died suddenly in June 2012 at the age of only 48.

Roy feels his death was “preventable”.

His passing was not the first personal tragedy for Roy. Another brother, Ian, died in 1986 at the age of 19 after suffering a brain haemorrhage.

And Roy and his sister Linda had to say an emotional farewell to a third brother last October when Jim passed away.

In an interview for our Footballers’ Lives series, the 66-year-old Crusaders stalwart reflects on how his family have suffered painful loss.

He gave 46 years service to the north Belfast club as a goalkeeper and coach, playing a part in their seven league championships before retiring following the 2018 Gibson Cup triumph.

The McDonald Centre, a community hub named in his honour, has just opened at Crusaders’ Seaview home.

But while he has cherished memories from a remarkable football career, including playing against Barcelona and Liverpool in big European battles with Distillery and Crusaders, they are tinged with sadness due to the tremendous heartache the family have endured.

“Ian died aged 19 with a brain haemorrhage in 1986 and there’s now a supporters’ club named after him, the Ian McDonald Supporters Club,” he explained.

He received news that Ian, 15 years his junior, had collapsed when he was on the sidelines of a match in Portadown. He was asked to come home urgently.

Alan was playing for QPR, and came over from England to be at his brother’s hospital bedside.

As Ian’s condition appeared stable, Alan returned to prepare for the London side’s next game.

By the following Saturday, however, his condition worsened and Alan travelled back to Belfast – but unexpected developments at Seaview left Roy with a terrible dilemma.

“Tommy Jackson had been sacked as Crusaders manager and I had to take the first team to Coleraine,” he said.

“It was an unbelievable time and it was a blur, but who else was going to be caretaker manager?

“Ian’s death was a huge shock. But by the Saturday morning we knew he hadn’t much time left and QPR pulled Alan out of the game and sent him home, while I went to Coleraine. It was all very sad.”

Roy, who is married to Heather, says he also believes Alan’s death from a heart attack while playing at Temple Golf Club near Lisburn in 2012 could have been avoided.

“Billy Beggs, who was a good friend of Alan’s at QPR, passed away and Alan was organising the funeral with the help of the Professional Footballers’ Association,” he added.

“Alan had also been going through emotional torture while Glentoran manager. Supporters were on his back and his health wasn’t good.

“Doctors had warned him about his blood pressure and more tests could have found the blocked arteries in his heart.

“That’s why I feel his death was preventable. My mum Pat and dad Bobby have passed away as well.

“Jim, a former Irish international basketball player, had health issues before he passed away last year.”

The goalkeeping legend also talks about how his Christian faith has kept him strong during the hard times.

Belfast Telegraph


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Constituency profile: East Antrim



Sammy Wilson
Sammy Wilson

Sammy Wilson

June 3 2017

Despite his views on breastfeeding in public and a row over his alleged comments on ethnic minorities, the DUP will be feeling confident that larger-than-life candidate Sammy Wilson will once again emerge triumphant in the East Antrim constituency.

In 2015, the outspoken DUP representative topped the poll with 12,103 votes, equivalent to 36.1% of the vote and nearly twice that of the next most popular candidate, the UUP’s Roy Beggs.

While Mr Beggs garnered a respectable 6,308 votes, representing 18.8%, he will not take part in next month’s race.

Instead, the UUP has chosen to put forward relative newcomer John Stewart, a former councillor on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council, who clinched his first Assembly seat in March.

Then, Mr Stewart was the last candidate to be elected, while Mr Beggs got through on the sixth count. The party will be hoping his fresh-faced appeal will be enough to make up for the loss of Mr Beggs’ high electoral profile.

Also running again for Westminster is veteran Sinn Fein representative Oliver McMullan, who lost his Stormont seat to Mr Stewart two months ago.

In the 2015, General Election, Mr McMullan achieved nearly 2,314 votes (6.9%), but will have to consolidate this substantially if he is to threaten Mr Wilson’s form this time round.

Alliance party stalwart Stewart Dickson, recently re-elected to Stormont, is his party’s Westminster candidate. Two years ago, he polled well with 5,021 total votes, a 15% share of votes cast.

Also running again this year is the SDLP’s Margaret Anne McKillop, who claimed just under 5% of the vote in 2015, while Mark Logan will represent the Conservatives.

Candidates:

Stewart Dickson (Alliance)

Mark Logan (Conservatives)

Margaret Anne McKillop (SDLP)

Oliver McMullan (Sinn Fein)

John Stewart (UUP)

Sammy Wilson (DUP)

Belfast Telegraph


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‘Appalling’ breast cancer referral failings at Northern Ireland trust



Disappointed: UUP health spokesperson Roy Beggs
Disappointed: UUP health spokesperson Roy Beggs

Disappointed: UUP health spokesperson Roy Beggs

By Lauren Harte

November 20 2018

Only 11.9% of urgent breast cancer referrals were seen within two weeks during September at one of Northern Ireland’s health trusts.

New figures have revealed that the longest wait endured by a patient with an urgent referral in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust was 44 days.

Compared to April this year, when 100% of urgent referrals within the trust area were seen within 14 days, the situation in the five months since has collapsed.

Initially it fell to 84% in May, slumping to just 59% by July and then collapsing by 40% in just one month to 19% in August.

Northern Ireland’s six healthcare trusts aim to have 100% of urgent breast cancer referrals seen within 14 days.

Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Roy Beggs said it is “totally unfair” for patients who think they may have cancer to wait so long.

He said: “I have been told that the cause of the deterioration has been a gap between capacity and patient demand and, even though the trust has been undertaking some additional activity, because of a shortage of staff and others on annual leave, the situation worsened and a backlog of patients accumulated as a result.”

Meanwhile, chief executive of Action Cancer Gareth Kirk said the latest figures are disappointing and concerning.

He added: “Unfortunately the long-term trend is one of increasing waiting times across all trust areas. Clearly urgent action involving all stakeholders is required to address this issue.

“We are, however, pleased to note that both the Northern Trust and the HSCB are urgently attempting to address what is currently an appalling situation for all women concerned.”

The Northern Trust said that from the end of October, 100% of patients were being seen within 14 days of receiving referrals.

A spokesperson explained that the normal 14-day referral period came back into force after it secured additional “in-house assessment clinics” in a neighbouring trust and in Antrim.

Over the summer, the trust added there was a “high level” of demand for breast assessment services, which had resulted in a longer wait for some of its patients.

Belfast Telegraph


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‘This one’s for you mum’ says award-winning Gerardine

Mid and East Antrim councillor Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna has dedicated her prestigious dementia award to her late mother.

Gerardine scooped the award for her work with dementia at yesterday’s Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Awards at Belfast’s Europa Hotel.

Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna was presented her Outstanding Contribution of the Year award by Danny Brown, the face of the Still Me campaign.

Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna was presented her Outstanding Contribution of the Year award by Danny Brown, the face of the Still Me campaign.

She won the “United against Dementia: Outstanding Contribution of the Year” title and was also shortlisted in the “Dementia Friendly Community Champion of the Year” category.

The award recognises those who are inspiring change to transform the lives of people with dementia by challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and taking action.

Ald. Mulvenna has been a dementia champion since 2017 and has been a driving force behind Mid and East Antrim Borough Council’s ongoing work to enhance the quality of life for those living with dementia, and their carers.

Gerardine knows the challenges facing many families and has first-hand experience of how her mother, Rosie, who lived with dementia until she passed away in 2016, flourished when treated by dementia friendly trained staff.

Ald. Mulvenna said: “I just can’t believe this. I’m so delighted and humbled to be considered among such high standards of nominations. To even get shortlisted for two awards was amazing, never mind actually winning one. I really can’t believe it, it’s such an honour and I’m over the moon that all the hard work I’ve put it alongside council and our partners over the past few years is being recognised. It’s been an emotional afternoon and this one’s for you mum.

“Council has been working to create Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC) across the borough as part of its community plan ‘Putting People First’. We’ve campaigned relentlessly with local businesses in Larne and Carrickfergus to ensure Mid and East Antrim becomes a dementia-friendly borough and I’m really delighted to see that work paying off. Just last week, we has around 30 people at our Dementia Friendly Choir event and we hope that continues to grow.”

To date, over 270 people from more than 100 businesses and organisations have attended dementia-friendly training workshops.

Her work isn’t finished yet. With a new dementia friendly garden opening at Larne Promenade, council staff and business training workshops in the pipeline, Gerardine’s sights are now on rolling this ethos out to Carrickfergus and Ballymena and ensuring they succeed at becoming DFC towns as well.

Bernadine McCrory, Northern Ireland director for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This year’s awards celebrate individuals, organisations and communities leading and inspiring a change that will transform the lives of people with dementia forever, challenging misunderstandings, changing attitudes and taking action.

“It is amazing that Ald. Gerardine Mulvenna has won the Outstanding Contribution award and it is a testament to her tremendous and tireless dementia-friendly work. We were all very moved that Gerardine dedicated this award to her mum, as it’s that personal connection to dementia that has inspired and driven her to make her community a more welcoming and inclusive place for everyone with dementia.

“The level of nominations received this year was truly phenomenal and there were some exceptional stories heard at the awards ceremony. There are now over 330 Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland ensuring people with dementia are empowered to live a life they want.

“We want everyone affected by dementia to know that whoever you are, whatever you are going through, you can turn to Alzheimer’s Society for support, help and advice. All the finalists and winners at the Dementia Friendly Awards have demonstrated how we can unite against dementia and support those affected by the condition.”


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