Two-thirds of patients on waiting lists for longer than target time

At the end of last month, there were 705,237 patients on a hospital waiting list

Sláintecare recommends waiting times of no more than 12 weeks. Photogrpah: iStock

More than two-thirds of patients on hospital waiting lists are waiting for longer than the target time, new figures show.

On Friday, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) published the latest waiting list figures up to the end of May.

It found that as of the end of last month, there were 705,237 patients on a hospital waiting list of some kind. This figure is 5,222 less than this time last year, but higher than the 699,000 patients on a list the previous month.

According to the figures, there are 471,406 people waiting longer than the Sláintecare targets.

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The 2017 Sláintecare report, which seeks to overhaul the health service, recommended maximum wait times of no more than 12 weeks for an inpatient/day case procedures or GI Scope and 10 weeks for a new outpatient appointment.

At the end of May, 52,646 people are exceeding the 12-week target for inpatient appointments, a 1 per cent increase compared to the end of last month and a 1 per cent increase in comparison to the end of May 2023.

Just over 9,500 people exceeded the GI scope target, a 3 per cent increase on the previous month, but a 9 per cent decrease on the same month last year.

A total of 409,258 people are exceeding the 10-week new outpatient target, an increase of 1 per cent compared to last month. However, this is a decrease of 6 per cent when compared to May 2023.

In a statement, the Department of Health said since pandemic peaks there has been a 25 per cent reduction in the number of people waiting longer than these targets.

The average waiting time has reduced by 1.7 months compared to the same time last year, the department said.

Removals from the waiting list are 5,100 higher than target, however additions are 20,000 higher than target, resulting in the waiting list being 14,900 above target year to date.

“In the earlier part of the year, hospitals experienced increased pressures in urgent and emergency care, with significant increases in emergency department attendances compared with the same period in 2023,” the department said.

“Increased pressure in urgent and emergency care can impact on the availability of access to scheduled care. Both the HSE and the department are monitoring these activity metrics and the associated targets.”

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers

Shauna Bowers is Health Correspondent of The Irish Times