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How we’re reducing waiting lists

Improving waiting times and managing waiting lists

Regional Centres have been set up in hospitals across Northern Ireland to carry out procedures such as cataracts, varicose veins, orthopaedic and general surgery, urology, endoscopy, gynaecology and Ear Nose and Throat (ENT).

These centres have been set up to get as many patients seen and treated and to reduce both waiting times and the number of people on waiting lists.

Also known as Elective Care Centres, they are designed as a dedicated resource for less complex surgery and procedures.

They operate separately from urgent and emergency hospital care and do not compete for operating rooms, staff and other resources, leading to fewer cancellations of operations.

You can read more about Elective Care Centres here –

I am on a waiting list in Northern Ireland. What does this mean for me?

In order to treat as many people as possible, you may have to travel to a regional centre further away from your local hospital or health and social care trust.

This allows the health and social care system to continue to deliver high-quality services and reduce waiting lists which are unacceptably long in Northern Ireland.

You may be seen or treated quicker by travelling to these centres for treatment.

What do I need to do?

If you are offered an appointment at a centre and it is not in your local hospital, you should still accept the appointment.

If you cannot attend the appointment, please let the hospital know by using the contact details on your appointment letter.

How will I travel to these centres?

Patients requiring surgery at a hospital will normally make their own way to hospital, either using their own transport, or with the help and support of friends and relatives.

What if I have no transport to get to the hospital?

There are a number of schemes to help people who have transport difficulties:

  • Hospital Travel Costs Scheme

You may be able to get help from the Hospital Travel Costs Scheme. You can read more about this here – Hospital Travel Costs Scheme | nidirect

  • Patient Transport Service

In certain circumstances, eligible patients may be entitled to non-urgent transport to hospitals via the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service Patient Transport Service.

If you think you may require non-emergency ambulance transport to take you to hospital, please contact your GP once you have received your appointment.  Your GP will then assess your medical need and decide if you require ambulance transport.

Requests must always come from a GP confirming that you have a medical need for transport.  Your GP will book your first appointment and any others booked within three months will be booked by the Hospital Consultant you are attending for treatment.

What if I don’t want to travel for my treatment?

Patients are being asked to travel to different locations for treatment to reduce both waiting times and the number of people on waiting lists across Northern Ireland.

You will be offered two appointment opportunities. If a first appointment is refused, you will be given a second offer.  If the second offered is refused, you may be removed from the waiting list.

Your first and second appointments may be in the same location.

If you need help with travel to an appointment, you may be able to get help under the  Hospital Travel Costs Scheme.

How do I find out how long I may have to wait for treatment?

You can find out what the current average waiting times are for each Health and Social Care Trust on this webpage – My Waiting Times NI – DOH/HSCNI Strategic Planning and Performance Group (SPPG) – formerly HSCB

What if I no longer need this treatment as I have been treated somewhere else?

If you no longer need your appointment, please let the hospital know. Their contact details will be in your appointment letter.

This means your appointment can be offered to another patient to help reduce waiting times and ensure more patients can be treated.

What if I can’t attend an appointment?

If you can’t attend an appointment, please contact the hospital as soon as possible so your appointment can be rescheduled. The contact details will be on your appointment letter.

If you no longer need your appointment, please also let the hospital know so your appointment can be offered to another patient to help reduce waiting times and ensure more patients can be treated.

I have been waiting several years for treatment. What can I do while I am waiting?

It’s important to keep looking after yourself while you are waiting for treatment. The links below offer advice and support about keeping yourself active and healthy.



Find out more about these centres and the treatments available:

Day Procedure Centre, Lagan Valley Hospital, Lisburn

This centre offers:

  • General surgery (hernia repair, laproscopic cholecystectomy, ano rectal surgery)
  • Urology (laser for uteric stones, laser for prostate surgery, repair of hydrocels, circumcision)
  • Ear, Nose and Throat (Tonsil surgery, FESS – functional endoscopic sinus surgery)
  • Varicose vein
  • Endoscopy
  • Plastic surgery

Over 15,000 procedures have been completed here since October 2020, including more than 1,400 suspect cancer endoscospies between January 2023 and April 2023.

Downe Hospital, Downpatrick

The hospital started offering outpatient pre-assessment, surgery, and post-operative review for non-complex cataract surgeries in 2019.

Elective Overnight Stay Centre, Mater Hospital, Belfast

This centre offers surgery for a number of specialties’ including General Surgery, ENT, Gynaecology and Breast. A range of procedures are undertaken, for example, Laparoscopic cholecystectomies, hernia repairs, tonsillectomies, laparoscopic gynae procedures, and trans urethral resection of prostate surgery.

It opened at the end of October 2022 and in the first 11 months of operation, more than 1,400 patients had been treated through this service. Currently, an average of 375 patients per month use the service, with increasing numbers of patients treated as staff are recruited and trained, beds opened and operating lists established.

The Duke of Connaught (DoC) Unit, Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast

The unit has been treating patients for orthopaedic carpel tunnel procedures since December 2021, helping to reduce waiting times for these procedures from approximately three years to three months. There is also an Operating Theatre Nurse Specialist (OTNS) service in place. These specialist nurses are now able to deliver injections for hip, knee, shoulder, hand, foot and ankle cases. There are plans to further increase the number of soft tissue knee cases and upper limb trauma lists. There have been 1400 procedures undertaken in unit so far since it reopened, the majority of which have been carpel tunnel procedures.

Elective Overnight Stay Centre, South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen

This centre offers surgery for a number of specialties including general surgery and  gynaecology.

Day Procedure Centre, Omagh Hospital

The second of such centres across Northern Ireland was announced in May 2022 and is offering treatment for urology, endoscopy and general surgery.

Elective Overnight Stay Centre, Daisy Hill, Hospital, Newry

The hospital has been appointed as a regional elective overnight stay centre.

The centre offers ENT, general surgery and dental for adults and children, gynaecology, breast and urology surgery.

From 1st January 2023 to 31st October 2023, they have looked after 1700 elective patients, 199 of these staying overnight.

The team have been gradually increasing theatre lists and are currently running 25 elective theatre sessions each week. This allows up to 77 patients to be treated and taken off the waiting list.