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Figures show consultant waiting times on the increase in Northern Ireland

Figures show consultant waiting times on the increase in Northern Ireland

 

Recent figures published by the Department of Health have shown that patients in Northern Ireland are facing increasingly long waiting times for consultant appointments, despite Ministerial targets made last year.

A total of 253,093 patients were waiting for a first outpatient appointment in Northern Ireland as of 31st March 2017, which is almost a 20% increase on last year’s figures.

The Ministerial target set for this year stated that by March 2017, 50% of patients should wait no longer than 9 weeks for a first outpatient appointment, and no patient should wait longer than 52 weeks.

However, this target was not achieved by Northern Ireland as a whole or by an individual HSC Trust, with almost 70% of patients waiting longer than 9 weeks.

Almost two thirds of the 253,093 patients were waiting for a first outpatient appointment in one of the following specialties; Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery; Ear, Nose and Throat; General Surgery; Ophthalmology; Gynaecology; Neurology; and General Medicine.

 

Elaynee Ramsey, 43, from Seahill, Craigavad, said:

“I found a lump inside my mouth and neither my doctor or dentist could work out what it was.”

“Finally, my dentist referred me to an EMT specialist.”

“This was over a six months ago and I still haven’t received so much as a letter to confirm an appointment.”

The 52 week target was also not met by Northern Ireland as a whole, or by an individual HSC Trust, with 21% (53,113) of patients waiting longer than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

Most of the 53,113 patients waiting more than 52 weeks for an such an appointment were in the following specialties: Trauma and Orthopaedic Surgery; Ophthalmology; Neurology; Ear, Nose, and Throat, General Medicine; General Surgery, and Urology.

During the quarter ending March 2017, 1,722 patients decided to use the private sector as an alternative. This is more than double the figures from the previous quarter.

Serena Mills, 22, East Belfast, said:

“I was referred to a dermatologist about a mole on my back but the GP said it wasn’t urgent so I just waited.”

“But then I got a smear test and the results came back and I got referred and it was going to take ages so the GP recommended I go private. So I did.”

“The mole thing was about last year and I got seen in about three months, but it was meant to be about six months before I would have been able to get an appointment about the smear results which is why I went private for it.”

A Co. Down GP has spoken out against the excessive waiting times being endured by his patients who are forced to carry on with painful and debilitating conditions:

“This cannot be allowed to go on.”

“GPs are forced to manage patients’ conditions who are waiting a long time to be seen by a consultant.”

“I have seen patients wait a year and a half just to get an appointment with a consultant to have their tonsils assessed, for example, and then after that they have to wait another year for the operation to have them removed.”

“It’s sad that so many GPs have to recommend that patients go private because the waiting times on the NHS are so long.”

In February, the former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill unveiled a plan to address the waiting list crisis, requiring a £31.2 million cash injection.

O’Neill said that she hoped it would mean that by March 2018, no one would wait more than a year for a first hospital appointment or surgery.

The plan has six commitments which encompass a number of actions designed to reform elective care services to meet current and future demand.

A key commitment is to provide assessment, treatment and care to reduce the waiting lists backlog, while continuing the longer term process to transform secondary, primary and community care services

However, given the current political stalemate in Northern Ireland, it is not known if this plan will move forward.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said:

“The plan does not focus solely on hospitals, but takes into account all of our health and social care services working together to transform the delivery of care.

“Parts of this will involve maximising hospital capacity through innovations such as specialist elective care centres for treatment and the further development of ambulatory assessment and treatment centres, but it is also about making better use of the skills of our primary care professionals and doing more outside the hospital setting”.

North West 200 Launch

NW 200

24/3/2015: Stars of the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 pictured with Event Director Mervyn Whyte at the race launch in Titanic, Belfast. (L-R) Jeremy McWilliams, Ryan Farquhar, John McGuinness, Lee Johnston, Maria Costello, Dean Harrison, Michael Rutter, Peter Hickman, Alastair Seeley and William Dunlop. PICTURE BY STEPHEN DAVISON PACEMAKER, BELFAST.

Last night I attended the 2015 Vauxhall International North West 200 press launch at the Titanic Quarter, Belfast. With just 47 days to the next NW200 fans and riders alike prepare themselves for the 86th North West 200 road race and Ireland’s largest outdoor sporting event.

The press launch wasn’t just your usual PR event. It was a chance for the riders to engage with the fans, with the aim of making the NW200 as enjoyable as possible for everyone.

It was my first time ever attending such an event and my first feeling of the night was surprise.  I couldn’t believe how relaxed it was, and how humble the riders were.  All the riders seen in the picture above hold amazing racing records yet their humility and clear passion for their fans, as well as the sport, was just astonishing to see. I kept wondering would certain golfing stars of the world be as pleasant and willing among a large group of almost 1,000 fans demanding pictures, autographs and on some occasions much more.

Have a look at this interview with NW200 Director Mervyn Whyte on the reasons why you should come to the NW200, 2015.

The North West 200 name derives from the location of the event on the North West of Ireland, an area of outstanding beauty, ‘200’ was included to keep links to the original race which was run over a distance of 200 miles.

There is no doubt that the NW200 will be a wonderful experience for anyone and in an area of such beauty just adds to the glamour of the event.

For those looking more information on the event visit the NW200’s official website here.  For information on accommodation and other things to do while attending the NW200  visit this site.

 

HOFFMAN’S PERFORMANCE A SALVATION FOR ANTON CORBIJN’S A MOST WANTED MAN AS HE LEAVES HIS ENDURING ON-SCREEN LEGACY.

a most wanted man

Hoffman’s performance a salvation for Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man as he leaves his enduring on-screen legacy.

Muslim refugees seeking asylum is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s becoming an everyday occurrence, thanks to the increasing national security threat. But when a part-Russian, part-Chechen, Muslim refugee arrives in Hamburg with a view to claiming his late father’s vast fortune, the ordinary is out. It’s left at the door of his safe-house.

Philip Seymour Hoffman plays the covert spy in Anton Corbijn’s adaption of John Le Carre’s novel; A Most Wanted Man. As intelligence are alerted, Hoffman battles corruption, morality and bureaucracy in an attempt to fulfil his sardonic mission to “make the world a better place.”

Rachael McAdam’s role is played with conviction. She is the young, ambitious lawyer tasked with processing Issa Karpov’s asylum application as well as a social worker, bodyguard and provider. Hoffman however, is the protagonist. He is also a raving alcoholic, chain-smoking, obsessive-compulsive intelligence officer racing against time to restore justice as well as his own professional reputation. Perhaps a little too convincingly.

Given that this was Hoffman’s last role before his tragic overdose, it’s fitting that his character, Gunther Bachmann appears jaded and exhausted. Either it is a reflection of the persona of a spy master or Hoffman was himself exhausted and despondent. The latter rings true.

Whilst the pretence of the film makes for gripping viewing on paper, on screen it’s an entirely different story. Perhaps it was the intention of Corbijn to portray the mundane tedium that is the everyday life of an intelligence spy. As Hoffman waits for his subject’s deal to be done, the viewer waits for the story to gather pace. Seemingly, both in vain. As late night coffee, whiskey and cigarette consumption dominate scene after scene, the viewer could be forgiven for employing said vices to carry them through to the end of the movie.

Finally the plot gathers pace. Albeit, in the final scene and last fifteen minutes of the film.

Hoffman’s performance however, must be commended and arguably compensates for the film’s disappointing dynamic. He is the overworked, overweight, cynical type that a spy should be. As spy thrillers go A Most Wanted Man draws a stark resemblance to John le Carre’s earlier novel; Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. It is a should-be gripping depiction of a collective battle for justice but lacks the follow-through of an engaging spy thriller with Hoffman’s character bearing an unnerving resemblance to his own fragile state of mind.

Another Amazing Event for Akuma MMA

event posterFighters from all over Ireland took part and displayed real talent and expertise in the biggest growing sport in the world of Mixed Martial Arts.

At the British Legion in Antrim, the main event was for the professional Bantamweight Title. Michael Putlak from Devils Fight Club in Antrim faced James  McErlean from Young Spartans Club.

This fight got off to an explosive start, with numerous strikes being thrown. Putlak started to get the better of the exchange before McErlean pulled off a well drilled slick submission namely a Flying Arm Bar. Justifiably this was awarded submission of the night. The fight only lasted 52 seconds.

 Michael said, “He was a good fighter strong on the ground and in using submissions. I didn’t get to show what I am made of. I am a good stand up fighter and it wasn’t the fight I was expecting. It was a brilliant ‘flying arm bar’, I was impressed. I should have been able to escape this move as only days prior I had demonstrated how to get out of this submission. I was taken by surprise.”

James said, “I was over the moon winning the Akuma belt and submission of the night. My game plan was to finish the fight early and I did. This fight has taught me I can compete with the best as Michael is a highly talented fighter. I plan to keep winning and jump at every opportunity that comes my way.”

James McErlean and coach Micky Young

James McErlean and coach Micky Young

The Amateur Light-Heavyweight title was closely contested between Antrim man Darren tween Antrim man Darren ‘Pit-bull’ Crooks from Devils fight club and Michael Rainey from Fighting Fit in Belfast. This contest started with Rainey throwing heavy strikes looking to end the fight fast. Crooks defended and tried to avoid the blows.

In the second round Crooks came out more confident and in the final moments of the round Crooks landed a devastating right hand which shook Rainey.The third round was the decider, both fighters were tired from a very intense match and Rainey got the upper hand in this round which led him to win the contest by points.

Rainey said, “It was a tough fight against a tough opponent. I was very impressed by Akuma and I look forward to defending my title at Akuma again.”

The atmosphere was magical and the support Crooks had from his home crowd raised the roof.

Crooks said, “It was my first fight and I could have done more. It is such a learning curve and I plan to come back better and stronger.”

Darren Crooks & Michael Rainey
Darren Crooks & Michael Rainey

Rhys McKee from IMMA/Next Generation took on Karl O’Neill from Young Spartans for the Amateur Bantamweight title. The fight went the distance of all three rounds.

Rhys had a better reach over O’Neill which aided him in winning the contest by points.

 Amateur Bantam Weight title winner
Rhys McKee

Rhys said, “It was a tough fight but I knew after all of the training and preparation that I did that no one could beat me come fight night.”

Steven Moore Akuma Manager is thrilled at how well the Akuma MMA events are flourishing.

He said, “I am delighted with another successful event and the talent displayed was superb. The primary aim of Akuma is to allow for the young talent throughout Ireland to gain not only experience but the recognition they each deserve. Akuma would not be possible without the input and support of clubs, fans and sponsors throughout the country.”

Akuma has seriously taken off, with competitors from all over Ireland wanting to compete and defend their titles. The professionalism of all involved in organising the shows has created a reputable and recognisable M.M.A competition. Full table of results available.

Everyone in the world of Mixed Martial Arts looks forward to the Akuma events of the future. The next show will take place in a bigger venue at the Templeton Hotel in Templepatrick on Sunday 22 June.

 

 

 

Alfred Lansing’s “Endurance” – a factual portrayal of man’s will to survive.

A Book Review by Thomas Burke                

EnduranceWhen people ask, “What’s your favourite film?” or “What’s your favourite band?” invariably the response involves a list rather than a definitive answer.

However, ask me “What’s your favourite book?” and I will immediately answer “Endurance” simply because it is the most riveting, suspenseful and enthralling book I have ever had the pleasure to read.

Endurance” written by Alfred Lansing is the true, astonishing account of a marathon voyage of exploration to the Antarctic led by Sir Ernest Shackleton.  It is a factual account based on the extraordinary diary entries which the crew maintained under some of the most incredible, extreme and inhospitable conditions ever endured by man.  It is based on Shackleton’s attempt to become the first person to lead an expedition across the continent of Antarctica.

It was his third such voyage.  In 1901, he was a member of Robert Scott’s expedition that got within 745 miles of the, yet to be discovered, South Pole.  He led his own expedition in 1907 but was forced to abandon his attempt when just an agonising 97 miles short of his objective.  In 1911, Norwegian Roald Amundsen became the first man to reach the South Pole.

Undeterred, Shackleton purchased a Norwegian built ship named the “Polaris” and re-christened it the “Endurance” in keeping with the Shackleton family motto “Fortitudine vincimus” meaning “by endurance we conquer” a term that was to prove prophetic.

The ship set sail from London’s East India docks on the 1st August 1914 with a crew of 27 men including the inimitable Tom Crean.  Each crewmember was handpicked and among them were a navigator, two engineers, two surgeons, a geologist, a biologist, a physicist and a photographer.

The ship was specifically built for arctic sea conditions.  Her keel comprised of four overlaid slabs of solid oak measuring 7 feet in depth and her sides varied in thickness from 18 inches to 2.5 feet.  Despite this, the ice flow that was to engulf the ship in the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea in January 1915 gradually crushed the ship causing the mighty timbers to bend and groan until the relentless pressure eventually caused them to snap like twigs.

Shackleton and his crew were left stranded on the moving ice pack with no hope of rescue.  What followed became an epic journey of resilience, adaptability and supreme heroism.

If you only read one book this year then read “Endurance” – you will not regret it. 

Available in all good book shops.  RRP £9.99

Published
04/05/2000

Publisher
Phoenix (an Imprint of The Orion Publishing Group Ltd)