SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said it is unacceptable that patients on waiting lists are being left in the dark, following the publication of a new report by the Northern Ireland Public Services Ombudsman.
As part of the report, it was revealed 99% of GP respondents in the Western Trust considered that Trust waiting list communication with their practice is not effective.
It was also found that if a patient is referred to the Western Trust, it is unlikely that they will receive an Acknowledgment and the first waiting list correspondence they are likely to receive is a booking/appointment letter, approximately six weeks prior to an expected appointment.
Said the Foyle MLA: “My office hears from individuals day and daily who are waiting an interminable amount of time on waiting lists.
“Not only are patients often left in debilitating physical pain, but the lack of communication about their wait can lead to huge mental anguish and anxiety.
“It’s particularly worrying for people here in Derry that the Western Trust is one of those areas where it is unlikely a patient will receive an Acknowledgement from the Trust that they have been placed on a waiting list.
“It seems that patients are being left totally in the dark and left to fend for themselves, many waiting months or years with limited information.
“Indeed, many people have expressed to me that they have lost faith in the system entirely after becoming understandably frustrated and left wondering whether they are actually still on a waiting list at all.
“I know some patients have reported feeling like they are a burden for trying to glean information on an operation or appointment that is badly needed.
“We know that our health service staff are working around the clock and face immense pressures, even while they are often under-valued and under-paid.
“However, it is clear that they are working in a broken system that is not fit for purpose and does not allow patients to make informed decisions about their care.
“I am pleased that the Ombudsman has completed this review and hope that it will lead to change.
“We need to see increased accessibility to waiting list information as well as an Acknowledgment template developed that details what patients can expect, who to contact and how they will be provided with updates.”Tags: