Inpatient and outpatient waiting lists fell again, data shows

National Treatment Purchase Fund spent €75 million this year on outsourcing care

Inpatient and outpatient waiting lists fell again last month as more patients had their treatment outsourced to private hospitals, new figures show.

With the National Treatment Purchase Fund spending €75 million this year on initiatives designed to take people off the inpatient waiting list, the size of the list has been declining during the year.

November saw another fall in numbers, down almost 1,000 to 66,594 from the previous month, according to the latest NTPF figures. The figures do not include any data from the three Dublin maternity hospitals. Of those on the list, 9,765 have been waiting for over a year.

The outpatient waiting list fell by almost 4,000 to 563,410, one of the biggest drops in recent years. Earlier in the year, the list had been growing by 5,000 to 7,000 patients a month.


Some 176,226 of these patients have been on the list for more than a year.

There are currently 44,175 children waiting to see a paediatrician for an outpatient appointment in the three Dublin hospitals that make up Children’s Health Ireland, as well as thousands of other children on the lists of individual adult hospitals.

Both Galway University Hospital and the Mater hospital in Dublin have over 43,000 patients waiting for appointments.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly welcomed the slight falls in hospital waiting list figures for November but said too many people were still waiting far too long to be seen.

“The improvement in inpatient lists is very slight and there will have to be a very significant fall in December for Minister Harris’s target of 60,000 for the year to be reached. Almost 10,000 have been waiting over a year - again far too long to be waiting for surgery or treatment.”

“So while the falls are welcome the performance in 2019 has been hugely disappointing with targets for both outpatients and in patients not being met.”

The NTPF says it will also be in a position next year to support public hospital emergency departments, by funding diagnostic scans.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is a former heath editor of The Irish Times.