Inpatient, daycase waiting lists soar 11,710 per cent
Outpatient lists up 563 per cent since June despite initiatives by Leo Varadkar
Hospital waiting lists continued to rise in September. Photograph: Getty Images
Hospital waiting lists continued to rise in September despite tens of millions of euro pumped into the health system by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to reduce delays.
The number of people waiting more than 18 months for inpatient or daycase treatment has soared 11,710 per cent since a low recorded by the HSE in late June, while long waiters on outpatient lists are up 563 per cent, new figures show.
More than 13,000 patients across the State have been waiting over 18 months for an outpatient appointment, and more than 2,200 patients are waiting that long for inpatient or daycase treatment.
Mr Varadkar promised zero patients would be waiting this length of time by mid-year and almost reached this target, but the numbers are trending upwards once again.
The number of outpatients waiting more than 18 months grew from 1,988 at the end of June - the Minister’s target date - to 13,176 at the end of September. This is one-third of the peak level recorded in May.
The number of people awaiting inpatient or daycase treatment for over 18 months increased from 19 to 2,244 over the same period. This is almost three times higher than at the start of the year.
Waiting list numbers were cut at the end of June through an outsourcing initiative which saw over 20,000 patients given appointments with private doctors.
This allowed Mr Varadkar to claim a 96 per cent-plus success rate in cutting long waiting lists.
However, patients’ names were taken off the list where they had received an appointment, even if they hadn’t yet seen a doctor. Many chose not to opt for private treatment and their names are back on the public list.
Overall, more than 401,000 patients are on the outpatient waiting list and 69,000 are waiting for inpatient or daycase treatment, the latest monthly figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) show.
The hospitals with the biggest numbers of long waiters include Galway University Hospital, where 2,496 patients are waiting over 18 months, Tallaght (1,215), Cork (1,066) and Letterkenny (1,035).
Four hospitals recorded no patients waiting this length of time for an outpatient appointment, while 20 hospitals had no adult patients waiting for over 18 months for inpatient or daycase treatment.
There is a discrepancy between the 1,988 outpatients the HSE said were waiting longer than 18 months at the end of June - Mr Varadkar’s target - and the figure of 15,542 provided by the NTPF.
The HSE explained the variation previously by saying it carried out its audit later in the month than the NTPF.
In addition to his 18-month target, Mr Varadkar aims to have no patient waiting for more than 15 months by the end of the year.
The NTPF figures for the end of September show there is still some way to go before this target is achieved, with over 34,200 outpatients waiting more than 15 months for an appointment and over 5,400 waiting this period for inpatient or daycase treatment. Both figures are slightly up on the previous month.
Two years ago, an effort was made to clear massive outpatient waiting lists by outsourcing work to the private sector.
Many patients ended up being referred back into the public system and back on to the waiting list.
This led to accusations, denied by the HSE, that the waiting list was being manipulated.
Mr Varadkar has promised the latest outsourcing initiative will effect a longer-lasting reduction in waiting times.