Northern Ireland

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BMA NI response to quarterly waiting list statistics

In response to today’s publication of the quarterly waiting list statistics, Dr Anne Carson, chair of BMA Northern Ireland’s consultants committee said,

“Consultants know the current waiting times are unacceptable. However they are indicative of a workforce in crisis. Patients in Northern Ireland continue to wait an unacceptably long time to see a consultant.

“Huge efforts locally by doctors and other team members to address the issue are hampered because the rising demand is not met with sufficient investment and appropriate planning.

“Over the last 10 years there have been increasing shortages in trained consultants being available to fill the jobs advertised here, which has now culminated in an unprecedented number of unfilled posts throughout Northern Ireland and meaning the Department is now looking to fill 118 posts with overseas doctors.

“On the specific targets for diagnostic imaging for example, this is an area with more than 45 unfilled posts across Northern Ireland. We need a rapid increase in training numbers in the specialties facing the highest pressures.

“It is important to keep in mind that it takes four to six years to train as a consultant[i]. I hope these figures encourage the Department to demonstrate their commitment to change by increasing the number of training posts now, so our junior colleagues can access training here, meaning they will stay and work in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland has become a less attractive place for specialised consultants to work in, and together we must change this if we are to attract and keep our highly motivated and skilled consultants.

“The Department of Health need to take a long-term, strategic view of what is happening in health in Northern Ireland and ensure that there are the right number of doctors in appropriate specialities in place to meet patient demand.

“The Minister’s vision for health is a good start in addressing some of these problems. We cannot afford to delay any more and must really see politicians taking collective responsibility to deliver the recommendations of the Bengoa Report and Minister’s vision as soon as possible.”


[i] Medical training is five years as a student, and then two years foundation training before speciality training of between four and six years before becoming a consultant 

For further information please contact:

BMA Northern Ireland, 16 Cromac Place, Cromac Wood, Ormeau Road, Belfast BT7 2JB
028 9026 9666   (switchboard)
028 9026 9672   (direct line)
074 0880 9519   (mobile / out of hours)
Email: [email protected] 
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