Commenting on today’s report from the Northern Ireland Public Service Ombudsman Forgotten – an investigation into healthcare waiting list communication, Dr Alan Stout BMA Northern Ireland GP committee chair said: "Today's report lays clear some of the issues faced by patients and doctors in terms of navigating an unnecessarily complex waiting list system.
"We all know that our waiting lists are far too long with average waiting times being years rather than weeks or months. Patients who are on a waiting list are, understandably, very anxious about when they will be seen and how soon they can access treatment. A lack of structured communication about their likely wait only exacerbates this anxiety.
"Patients need to be seen in a timely manner, but they also need to be communicated with along that journey so they are not put in a position where they are chasing appointments themselves, or as the report highlights using GP time to chase appointments. Trusts need to communicate more effectively with patients, being open and honest about how long they are likely to wait for an appointment and treatment.
"We would welcome the opportunity to work with Trusts to help address some of the issues highlighted by today’s report."