Belfast Telegraph

Neurology appointment waiting list doubles in Northern Ireland

By Eimear McGovern

The number of people waiting for their first neurology appointment in Northern Ireland has more than doubled over the past four years.

More than 19,000 people are waiting for an appointment, up from 9,123 patients in March 2015.

There are also more than 11,000 patients waiting more than one year to be seen.

5,816 of those patients had been waiting for more than two years.

The figures were released by the Department of Health as part of a review into neurology services.

It covers conditions such as strokes or acquired brain injuries as well as conditions like epilepsy or multiple sclerosis (MS).

They said they're hoping to secure additional funding for more junior doctors to work in neurology as well as more nursing staff with a specialism in neurological conditions.

The report said "there are insufficient consultant neurologists to deliver a 24/7 on call rota on any site other than the Royal Victoria Hospital".

In an attempt to tackle waiting list figures and bring services in line with modern specifications, the Health and Social Care Board is attempting to secure funding for additional training places for junior doctors in neurology.

"There are significant challenges in developing expertise in neurology among trainees. For example, of 138 core training places, a maximum of two will be attached to neurology. This current restriction presents a clear limitation on the potential to address workforce shortages," the report read.

It added that progress has been made to improve support in 2020, including "maintaining the existing number of specialist registrar places for training, funding an additional one year placement to promote the specialty and supporting additional doctors wanting to improve their skills and knowledge in the specialty."

A number of different training and multi-disciplinary pathways are also being developed following meetings across Northern Ireland, allowing healthcare professionals to meet and agree on the best way to treat patients.

The review is expected to identify an optimal service configuration of future neurology services through to 2035, with a framework to be published in March 2020.










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