The number of people waiting on outpatient appointments in public hospitals dropped slightly in November.
Data released on Friday shows there were 636,695 patients on the public outpatient list at the end of last month. Although this is down slightly on October’s numbers it is still 12 per cent higher than the 566,394 waiting in October.
In addition, there are 75,740 people waiting for an inpatient or day-case appointment and another 29,960 waiting on an endoscopy appointment.
Another 112,513 people are on other waiting lists for either planned procedures or pre-admissions. Pre-admission patients are those who have already had a treatment but require additional treatment at a future date, to be determined by their doctor.
More than 42,200 patients have been classified as suspended from waiting lists as of the end of November. These are patients who "are temporarily unfit or unable to attend due to clinical or personal/social reasons", said the National Treatment Purchase Fund which manages the waiting list data. The suspension category also applies to patients being treated through various insourcing or outsourcing methods, it said.
In total, there are 897,108 people on various forms of waiting lists, a very slight reduction on the figures for October.
This includes 84,850 children who are waiting for an outpatient appointment in a public hospital, of which, 34,712 are under six months old. The figure for October was 97,424 children.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) president, Prof Alan Irvine, said: “We are simply not bringing these waiting lists under control quick enough and the lack of progress this year is really damning. With the current Covid pressures on the hospital system, the widespread cancellation of operations and the thousands of patients in need of treatment who have not yet been identified, we are still looking at a likely waiting list of 1 million people in the near future.
“The scale and complexity of what the health service now faces over the winter months and into 2022 is unprecedented. We have a backlog of care greater than anything we have seen over the past decade.”
Separately, Children's Health Ireland (CHI) has announced that non-urgent elective inpatient and day-case procedures scheduled to take place at its facilities between December 10th and 17th have been cancelled.
This is due to what it called "the extremely high number of attendances" at its emergency departments and urgent care centres. This impacts Crumlin, Tallaght and Temple Street children's hospitals. Those affected will be contacted directly by their hospital, CHI said.