Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke has called on the Department of Health to draw up a plan to address what is calls the ‘scandal’ of the waiting lists for electrocardiogram (Echo) tests.
“An Echocardiogram, or “echo”, is a scan used to look at the heart and nearby blood vessels.
It’s a type of ultrasound scan, which means that a probe is used to send out high frequency sound waves that create echoes when they bounce off different parts of the body” explained Neil Johnston, the charity’s Public Affairs Adviser.
“The recently published waiting lists show that the numbers waiting have rocketed. We need to know what the Department is planning to do. The waiting list has grown from 10,000 to nearly 16,000 in the past two years alone. This test can be the first step in identifying serious heart conditions – many of which can be successfully managed or treated. It is incredible that over 5,000 people in Northern Ireland have been waiting over 26 weeks not knowing whether there is anything seriously wrong with them.
“We know that earlier in the year the health service undertook to employ more physiologists in an attempt to begin to address this problem, however, it now appears to completely spiralling out of control.
“Two years ago we had 800 people waiting for longer than 26 weeks for an Echo now we have over 5,500. This is a scandal and we are calling on the Permanent Secretary of the Department of Health to come up with a comprehensive plan to deal with this situation urgently.”