Anorakish blog on health

As I observed in the title this is one for anoraks, but still worth a mention I think.In the June 2007 announcement on waiting lists Mr. McGimpsey announced the following waiting times:

• 13 weeks for a first outpatient appointment
• 13 weeks for a diagnostic test
• 21 weeks for surgery.

These to be achieved by March 2008

However, in the press release following the budget we have this comment on waiting times:

• Reduction of waiting time from outpatients to surgery from 45 to 37 weeks.

Now this 37 weeks it seems is being “taken forward”. I am unsure whether or not it is a firm commitment; that seems very unclear from the press release. Even if it is; that seems quite different to the 21 weeks for surgery noted above. It is even slightly longer than the 13 weeks for first outpatient appointment wait added to the 21 weeks already mentioned. I suppose it is shorter than the 13 weeks, plus the 13 weeks plus the 21 weeks (47 weeks). However, not every patient will need to wait for tests before an operation. Still that could be a way for the department to weasel out of having lengthened the maximum waiting time. Of course these waits are much longer than the 18 week “patient journey” from presentation to GP to definitive hospital operation (if appropriate) in England: to be delivered by the end of 2008.

Maybe in the midst of the general rejoicing about the increased funding for health it was a good day to bury the bad news of a target abandoned.

  • Rory

    The message is clear – the time lag between primary diagnosis by a GP and actual treatment, whether 45 weeks or 37 weeks or whatever moveable feast of intention, is worrying. And so it should be. It is after all intended to worry.

    Clearly the only way to reduce such unacceptable waiting times is for the waiting list to be shortened and the best way to do that is to remove a lot of those waiting from the list.

    And the best way to do that is for them simply to go away and die. Since the waiting lists are largely cluttered up with individuals from three main (and sometimes overlapping) categories:

    The elderly and weak
    The sick, and
    The poor

    it is preferable that it is those from these categories who should mostly do the dying. This will leave social health provision more readily available to:

    The young and fit
    The incredibly healthy, and
    The rich

    Which is as it should be and fits in nicely with the current economic realities which recognise that all the very rich lack to make them happy is lots more money.

    It is surely the duty of all citizens to strive towards that end. Or die in the attempt.

  • Turgon

    Rory,

    Thank you for that. Actually it is worse than your understanding. Before the clock starts ticking on the 37 weeks you will already have had to wait for the first out patient appointment. Also this is a target to be “taken forward” with no apparent time frame.

    In reality, this is a huge backwards step in terms of waiting times for patients and does show that our NHS is, on this issue at least, falling behind the rest of the UK. As I said the general rejoicing over the health budget made it a good time to bury this massive regressive step.

  • joeCanuck

    I enjoyed your modest proposal, Rory.

  • Rory

    Still, let’s not be downhearted. The cheery news is that if one manages to be modestly rich then, with the benefits of private health insurance, one may have preferential treatment by NHS health care teams in NHS hospitals with the added comfort that privatised efficiency and care will be in charge of the cleanliness of the unit wherein you lie.

    When the insurance cover runs out – don’t worry – the Real NHS will be there to pick up the pieces so that you are able to die comfortably along with your fellow citizens of economic indigence.

    Some may consider it better to use their limited resources on a ‘nip-tuck’ so that at least they might look really good when laid out. Appearances, after all, are so important. Dontcha think?

  • It’s even worse than that given the announcement from Mr McGimpsey is re-treading previous announcements from Direct Rule Ministers. In September 06 Paul Goggins announced reduced waiting times for children and young people needing specialist wheelchars. In DHSSPS budget press release it said they would aim to reduce waiting times for children and young people needing specialist wheelchars to 13 weeks…that’s not even to add comment about the adolescent psychiatric unit at Green Park that plans have already been drawn up for or the children’s home in Antrim that’s been on Homefirst…sorry Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s books for 4+ years. Nothing new under the sun….