ASCOT throws GPs into turmoil on hypertension
Waiting lists in Northern Ireland are making it virtually impossible for patients to access hospital services.
A survey of more than 400 GPs, carried out as part of the Appleby review, revealed huge frustration at long waiting lists of up to four years for some treatments.
More than half of GPs said their patients found it hard to access diagnostics and nearly 60 per cent said patients found it hard to access inpatient/day case services.
Figures for outpatient services, where 65 per cent of GPs reported access problems, and therapy, with 70 per cent, were even worse.
The picture deteriorated further when individual specialties were considered.
Almost all GPs said they had problems accessing trauma, orthopaedics, rheumatology, and plastic surgery. Major problems were reported in dermatology, ENT, ophthalmology, urology, general surgery and cardiology.
Dr Chris Hall, a GP in Belfast, said patients had been told of four-year waits for orthopaedics and three for ENT.
'I've never seen anyone move up the queue,' he said. 'I've got people coming back for more difficult consultations and their health is deteriorating.'
Only in cardiac surgery, cardiology and dermatology had waiting times for inpatient and day cases waits not increased.
Most GPs also reported not being told if a patient was suspended from a waiting list or for how long the suspension would last.
Most also said they were not told the clinical reasons for the suspensions.