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Hospital waiting times ‘are on the rise’ in Northern Ireland

by Lisa Smyth

Health trusts in Northern Ireland have brought in unofficial waiting times double the 13 weeks stated in Government targets, a doctors’ union claims.

At the British Medical Association’s annual GP conference in Enniskillen yesterday, members also warned that the days when patients waited years for a hospital appointment are returning.

Just six years ago, waiting times in Northern Ireland were deemed among the highest in the UK.

The Government has acted to address the situation, including spending millions of pounds for patients to be treated privately.

The 2009/10 target says that since April 2009 no patient should wait longer than 13 weeks for inpatient treatment.

But BMA members said official government figures do not represent the reality for patients.

Dr Brian Dunn, chairman of the BMA (NI) General Practitioner’s Committee (GPC), said: “There are no sanctions for Trusts that do not meet their access targets of 13 and nine weeks”.

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