Quarterly statistics on waiting times for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

In contrast to inpatients and day case admissions, outpatients are not admitted to hospital for their assessment.

The latest statistics published cover up to the end of March 2017. Data has been published by Department of Health.

Total Number Waiting

The total number of patients waiting includes all outpatients waiting for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment for any length of time. It therefore includes patients who have been waiting for one day, as well as any waiting for a number of weeks or months, (see definitions).

Waiting Times - Specialties

Numbers and percentages of patients waiting by Specialty (clinical area), by different timebands. There may be differences in coverage of certain timebands over the full length of available data, (see definitions).

Note that as some timebands cover all patients waiting over a certain number of weeks (e.g. '9 weeks and over' and '18 weeks and over'), the sum of these will result in double counting of a number of patients.

Select a clinical specialty from the menu below.

Performance Profiles

‘By March 2017, 50% of patients should wait no longer than 9 weeks for a first outpatient appointment; with no patient waiting longer than 52 weeks.'

Performance is measured in two ways:

  • 9 week performance: Percent of the total number of patients waiting who have been waiting over 9 weeks. Target: Below 50%
  • 52 week performance: Number of patients waiting longer than 52 weeks. Target: Zero

The table below shows the performance of outpatient waiting times. These measure the progress towards achieving the Ministerial Target by March 2017.

Performance profiles are included for all outpatient waiters, in health trust groupings and by some clinical specialties.

The quarterly data covers April 2015 to end December 2016. However, figures for patients waiting over 52 weeks started to be collected only from April 2016.

Outpatient Grouping Percent over 9 weeks Number over 52 weeks
All Trusts
South Eastern
T&O Surgery
General Surgery
General Medicine
Oral Surgery
Thoracic Medicine
Pain Management
Due to large number of different specialties, we have chosen to show those with the highest number of patients to keep this list brief.

Data Notes and Definitions

For more detailed and additional information please see DoH Outpatient Waiting Times Documentation .

Outpatient waiters

Outpatient waiters are defined as patients still waiting for their first outpatient appointment at the end of the quarter, including those who have cancelled or missed a previous appointment. An outpatient appointment is to enable a patient to see a consultant, a member of their team or locum for such a member, in respect of one referral.

Waiting times

Waiting time for a first outpatient appointment begins on the date the HSC Trust receives a referral for a first outpatient appointment and ends on the date a patient attends a first outpatient appointment (face to face or virtual) at a consultant-led outpatient service. Patients who cannot attend (CNA) have their waiting time adjusted to commence on the date they informed the HSC Trust they could not attend, while patients who do not attend (DNA) have their waiting time adjusted to commence on the date of their DNA.

First appointment

A first outpatient appointment is the first of a series, or the only attendance (face to face or virtual), at an outpatient service with a consultant or their representative following an outpatient referral. In practice, most referrals will be seen as a consequence of a GP referral request; however, referrals may also be received from a range of other sources (see Section 3). First attendances at an outpatient clinic that are initiated by the consultant, who has already seen the patient, are classified as review attendances i.e. following an attendance at an Accident & Emergency unit or following an inpatient admission.


Each outpatient waiting timeband relates to the number of completed weeks a patient has been waiting for outpatient assessment. For example, a patient waiting exactly 6 weeks would be included in the '0-6' week timeband and a patient waiting 6 weeks and 1 day would be included in the '>6-9' week timeband (greater than 6 weeks but waiting no longer than 9 weeks). Not all timebands have available data for the full length of the period covered. For example, the number of patients waiting over 52 weeks started to be measured only since the quarter ending June 2016; the number waiting over 18 weeks has been measured since the quarter ending June 2011; the number waiting 0-6 weeks has been measured for the full length (since the quarter ending June 2008).


Patients will be referred for a first outpatient appointment for a specific medical condition. Following receipt of the referral by the HSC Trust, the referral will be triaged and allocated to the most suitable consultant. Each consultant employed by the HSC Trust will have an allocated specialty of employment (from a list recognised by the Royal Colleges and Faculties), and it will be this specialty against which the patient’s waiting time will be reported. These data provide a useful insight into the differences in both the demand for certain types of medical procedures, and also the existing capacity available to meet these demands.


We use the most recent quarterly datasets that the Department of Health publish for secondary analysis. These will include any revisied figures from previous published data that may be present.

Data providers

Data are sourced by Department of Health directly from HSC Trusts, via the Departmental CH3 Return.