Nearly 700,000 people were waiting on a hospital appointment at the end of May according to new figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).
The total figure includes 575,863 patients waiting for their first hospital out-patient appointment for an assessment by a consultant. This number is slightly up on April’s figure.
It also includes 86,946 patients waiting on an in-patient appointment or day case treatment and 35,307 waiting on an endoscopy appointment, both also slightly up on April’s figures.
Just under 16,000 patients on the waiting lists have been classified as “suspended”, as a result of not being able to avail of an appointment.
The increases are mainly the result of appointments and clinics being suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic. Before the pandemic waiting list numbers had been ticking downwards.
In March the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended a pause in all non-essential health services leading to up to 2,000 vacant beds at any one time.
Last month the HSE announced it would begin using private hospitals to ease the waiting list numbers.