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What’s life really like on a waiting list?

While it has been widely reported that waiting times continue to grow, there has been little focus on the lived experiences of people who are waiting for sometimes urgent and life-saving care.  This week saw the launch of “Our lived experience of waiting for healthcare – People in Northern Ireland share their story”. Chief Executive, Maeve Hully explains more. 

Waiting for healthcare is a frustrating and worrying experience.  People do not know how long they will wait. Deteriorating physical and mental health, worsening pain, loss of income and social isolation are just some of the issues that people are struggling to cope with as they wait for care.

Sustainable solutions that address this ongoing crisis are required, and clear and accurate information needs to be available immediately, so that people can make informed choices about their care.

Nora from Co Tyrone, shares her experience of being on a waiting list and Louise Skelly talks to BBC Good Morning Ulster’s Karen Patterson about what the Patient and Client Council is doing to help patients have their voices heard. Listen again at 1:50:02  

Maeve Hully highlights the impact long waits are having on people's lives on U105's Frank Mitchell Phone In.

Actions that could be taken immediately to address and improve the experience of those who are currently waiting have been identified by those who took part in our report. These include:

  • Honest conversations about the length of time people will wait so they can make informed decisions about their care,
  • Ongoing communication with people to keep them informed of their waiting status,
  • Regular updating of waiting lists so that they are an accurate reflection of the situation, and
  • Better use of technology to improve communication between patients and professionals and professional to professional.

Thank you to all those who shared their experiences. We will continue informing the Department of Health, and Health and Social Care service decision makers on the issues raised by patients and their families.

Read the full report here.


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Alfreda Carson 12-Mar-2018 at 16:06 hrs

Have been waiting since January 2017 for a non urgent(but urgent to me) eye operation, was told in January 2017 waiting list was 6 months, I rang in January 2018 and was told they are working on October 2016 lists, so here's hoping for April/may 2018.


Peter Martin 07-Mar-2018 at 11:02 hrs

I am on another waiting list and when I phoned the Hospital to advise them of my new address I was also told that the waiting time was extended from 18 months to 2 years. What I don't understand is my waiting time should be getting shorter if they are doing the test I am waiting for the list should be shorter for me unless the staff are sitting around doing nothing which I am sure they are not but nobody gives me an explanation for the longer wait.


charlie lynn 04-Mar-2018 at 19:05 hrs

sadly I think in the future the only way we will get treatment on the NHS only those that can afford to go private will not have to join long waiting lists. As I have said before we have a right wing government that is more at home spending money on arms than health care.


Norah 03-Mar-2018 at 11:10 hrs

Attending Rheumatology OP BCH since 1980. Had appt promised Jan this year, then changed to March, now to unknown date in 2019! Ongoing probs with GP changing my medication, need to see consultant, after many attempts am promised nurse led clinic appt soon.


D McCallister 02-Mar-2018 at 17:39 hrs

after a 3 year wait to se a consultant I have been waiting at least 6 months now for what is, I think, a relatively minor op, but which it is hoped will help me with both serious leg pain and with passing urine. I understand how people feel, and that you can not really make any plans because you keep hoping that you will hear soon about the op/