MORE than 700 people are on the waiting list for a hip replacement operation in the Western Trust region, which covers West Tyrone. Of the 718 on the waiting list, 268 have been waiting for more than a year, with a further 212 waiting between six months and a year.
The scale of the delays was revealed by the Health Minister in response to an Assembly question from Ulster Unionist MLA Ross Hussey.
The figures reflect the waiting list from September 30.
Just weeks earlier, it emerged that West Tyrone is the worst area in the North for patients waiting on hip and knee operations.
According to figures released by the Department of Health, patients are having to wait an average of 41.5 weeks for hip replacement operations, while knee-replacement patients are having to wait even longer, at 45.7 weeks.
In neighbouring Fermanagh and South Tyrone, the picture is not much brighter, with a 42.6 week waiting list for knee-operations and a 36.3 week waiting list for hip replacements.
As part of her response this week, the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill acknowledged “that the current waiting lists are unacceptably long.”
She added, “However, unless we tackle the root causes this will remain the case, as we have a 20th century model delivering services for a 21st century population.
“This is having an increasingly negative impact on the quality and experience of care. The long term solution is the transformation of our health and social care system as outlined in Delivering Together. It is only in transforming the health and social care system and by implementing new models of care that we will be able to alleviate the pressures on our health and social care services, sustain improvements in waiting times and deliver better outcomes for patients.
“That said, I would pay tribute to the staff across the Health & social care sector. Notwithstanding the structural issues, they continue to work incredibly hard and on average deliver 9,000 outpatient appointments, 2,600 inpatient/day case procedures and 31,000 diagnostic tests per week.”