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Ageing population puts pressure on healthcare

Louise Skelly

Unfortunaely waiting times appear to be rising and with an ever-increasing lack of funding in the Health Service it's hard to see a remedy for this. People want waiting times to be shorter, that's been clear for a long time.

People are worried about the potential risk which could come from having to wait a long time to access services. Waiting on appointments is undoubtedly a stressful and anxious time for patients, on top of a medical condition. People are often in chronic pain and discomfort and are not able to work as a delay in diagnosis can result in a delay in treatment.

This brings added financial burden for people who are absent from work for long periods. There is also a concern that a delay in diagnosis leads to further deterioration in a condition which may have been avoided with more prompt treatment.

The public needs to see evidence from the decision-makers that they are listening and responding to public concern.

Often we hear of people waiting for long periods with nothing from the Health Service, and while we appreciate staff are under pressure, telling patients what is happening with their treatment and care can make for better experiences.

The reasons why waiting times are increasing need to be addressed urgently; people are asking why? Is there a shortage of staff? An increase in demand for services? Administrative inefficiencies? Or a combination of all these factors?

There is no doubt that with an ageing population the pressures on healthcare services will continue to grow, so more effective and efficient ways of using resources and delivering services in the future need to be adopted. To address the problem of waiting times there needs to be a much more integrated approach to providing services.

  • Louise Skelly is head of operations at the Patient and Client Council

Belfast Telegraph