More than 570,000 on public hospital waiting lists

National Treatment Purchase Fund figures reveal waiting list increase of 6,000 in June

Minister for Health Simon Harris: The number of outpatients waiting for a hospital appointment has grown by some 58,000 since he was appointed a year ago. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Health Simon Harris: The number of outpatients waiting for a hospital appointment has grown by some 58,000 since he was appointed a year ago. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The number of people on public hospital waiting lists increased by some 6,000 in June, with more than 570,000 people awaiting treatment at the end of the month.

Figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show there were 484,346 people waiting for outpatient appointments last month and 86,018 waiting for inpatient surgery or day-case procedures.

The number of outpatients waiting for a hospital appointment has grown by some 58,000 since Simon Harris was appointed Minister for Health a year ago.

Some 23,257 people are now waiting for cardiology appointments across the State, with more than 18,000 of these on the outpatient lists.

At Cappagh National Orthopaedic Hospital, there were 1,758 people on the outpatient list, up from 1,661 in May.

The continuing increase in the lists is in part due to the knock-on effects of the post-Christmas trolley crisis that forced the cancellation of thousands of scheduled appointments. Staff shortages, a lack of step-down beds for patients well enough to leave hospital and poor management have also been blamed.

Little impact

The Government pledged to spend €50 million this year on initiatives to cut waiting lists, but the latest figures show this has yet to have a significant impact.

A slight decrease was recorded in the number of patients waiting over 18 months, with a decrease of almost 300 recorded in June.

The Private Hospitals’ Association said the figures showed that private hospitals started to receive referrals from public hospitals under the treatment purchase scheme and have immediately started treating several hundred patients.

“This has slowed the growth of public waiting lists,” it said. “However, there is still a mountain to climb with 86,000 people on inpatient waiting lists and over 10,000 of them waiting more than 15 months.”

The association also said that €5 million had been spent on reducing waiting lists, which it described as “a drop in the ocean” when “you consider that the spend on HSE hospitals every year is 1,000 times as much at over €5 billion”.