The Department of Health is urging patients on waiting lists across Northern Ireland to accept appointments for treatment at any hospital, even if this might not be their local or closest hospital.
From 2018, five regional elective care centres have been set up across Northern Ireland with a further four announced in 2022 in an effort to reduce both waiting times and the number of people on waiting lists across Northern Ireland.
Also known as Elective Care Centres, these regional centres are designed as a dedicated resource for less complex surgery and procedures.
They operate separately from urgent and emergency hospital care and therefore do not compete for operating rooms, staff and other resources, leading to fewer cancellations of operations.
Professor Mark Taylor, Professional Advisor for Elective Transformation, Department of Health, said: "We're asking patients to work with us to help us reduce waiting times for treatment. It's important that patients accept an appointment for a consultation or treatment even if it is at a hospital further from their local hospital. We know some patients may worry about travelling further but this could mean the difference between waiting in pain or being seen and treated more promptly. Travelling to an elective care centre can get you quicker access to the high quality care you need."
Day Procedure Centres are now up and running at the Lagan Valley and Omagh Hospital sites, while Elective Overnight Stay Centres are treating patients at the Mater, Daisy Hill and South West Acute Hospital sites. In addition, there are cataracts centres at Downe, South Tyrone and Mid Ulster Hospital and an orthopaedic hub at Musgrave Park Hospital.
The Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn has been offering procedures such as urology, hernia repair and tonsil surgery since 2020 and has treated more than 13,000 patients.
The Mater Hospital in Belfast has treated more than 1400 patients since October 2022 and offers surgery for a number of specialities including General Surgery, ENT, Gynaecology and Breast.
For more information about travelling to these centres, please visit the HSC NI website.