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28/10/2021

Staff shortages lead to months long waiting list for contraception services 

Staff shortages lead to months long waiting list for contraception services 

Months long waiting lists for contraception services in Derry

There is currently an approximate nine-week waiting list for contraception services in Derry as Western Health and Social Care remains under immense pressure from staff shortages. 


Brae Clinic in Derry is working from a waiting list which commenced on July 7 and there are 
currently 597 patients waiting to be seen. 


The waiting lists consists of 111 face-to-face consultations and 486 telephone consultations. 


Sinead McLaughlin, SDLP, said: "Waiting lists and waiting times for access to contraception 
services in Derry and the wider Western Health area have become excessively long. 


“I am extremely concerned to learn that there are nearly 600 patients waiting to be seen 
and that this represents a nine-week queue for access.” 


She continued: "While I am very sympathetic to the situation facing the Western Trust as a result of the pandemic and staff vacancies, lack of access to contraception services may lead to serious social and medical difficulties for many patients.  


“Family planning is an incredibly important service. It is essential that the Western Trust acts urgently to bring waiting lists and waiting times down as quickly as possible." 


Health Minister, Robin Swann addressed Stormont regarding the current waiting times for contraception services after McLaughlin addressed the issue. 


He said the COVID-19 pandemic had placed “immense pressure on an already reduced service.” 


Western Health and Social Care Trust have seen immense staff shortages over the last few months.

 
An appeal for staff was released on September 13 after Altnagelvin Hospital was under 'extreme pressure' caring for patients. 


Commenting on the contraceptive services, WHSC said: “Due to staff sickness and shortages clinics had to be cancelled and clinic capacity reduced based on available staffing levels.” 


On June 11, at Brae Clinic, 100 patients were waiting for their cancelled appointment to be rescheduled and as of 16th September these patients have all been seen and the current waiting list was introduced. 


Contraception clinics in Omagh and Enniskillen are also experiencing similar problems.  


On average they are receiving 60-80 enquiries per day from patients looking to book an 
appointment.

 
Vulnerable patients who contact or are referred to the service are prioritised for treatment. 

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