Isle of Man NHS waiting lists remain 'top priority'

Health minister David Anderson Health minister David Anderson said waiting lists will remain a problem for the "foreseeable future"

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Tackling hospital waiting lists remains a top priority for the Isle of Man government, says the health minister.

David Anderson said the review, launched in 2011, was already yielding results but more work was needed.

Recent hospital figures show the average waiting time across all 19 departments to be about eight months.

While breast surgery patients are seen in less than a month, patients waiting for a pain management appointment can expect to wait years.

The problem, says Mr Anderson, is down to an ageing population and higher expectations.

"Some of the procedures available on the NHS are extremely complex, there are people having knees, hips and ankles replaced - these are things we wouldn't have been able to dream about in the past.

"As the field of healthcare continues to advance with new treatments and new drugs, the pressure continues to increase."

Text reminders

As part of the government review, measures have been introduced to end the inefficiencies caused and money lost by missed appointments.

Some patients now receive text message reminders, a system which seems to be working and could be brought in for all the clinics.

"Along with that, we also have a new system which give patients more say in the timing of their appointments - these measures have between them, brought down the percentage of 'no shows' from 30% to almost nothing," continued Mr Anderson.

"We have also brought in self-referral system for physiotherapy and this has eradicated the waiting list completely, so instead of going through a GP, patients can go online and get an appointment within 48 hours."

In 2013 the department of health aims to introduce a centralised appointment system in an attempt to "streamline the service".

A spokesman said: "This will give patients a single point of contact whilst allowing previously wasted appointments to be quickly allocated to other waiting patients."

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