New record of more than 718,000 patients on waiting lists

Outpatient waiting list rises by 3,000 in August, while inpatient list drops by 2,000

The number of people waiting to be treated or seen by a doctor has risen to over 718,000, a new record.

The total across nine separate waiting lists includes 514,585 people who are waiting for an outpatient appointment, and 74,189 people waiting for an inpatient or daycase procedure.

The only glimmer of hope in the latest monthly figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund is a fall of 2,000 in the number waiting for inpatient/daycase procedures. The Government is spending €50 million through the NTPF to tackle waiting lists, and this investment has seen the inpatient waiting list fall by 12,000 in slightly over a year.

However, outpatient numbers, which had fallen slightly in recent months, grew by 3,000 from July to August. The NTPF hopes to use its funding in future to alleviate outpatient lists.


While the CervicalCheck controversy has dominated the debate about health this year, the rise in overall waiting list numbers has continued apace. The trend is likely to place renewed pressure on the health service during the difficult winter period, with many health professionals predicting that demand for beds will outstrip supply in the coming months as much as it did last winter.

According to the NTPF figures for August, almost half of those on the outpatient list - 256,736 - have been there for more than six months.

More than 66,000 patients are waiting to see an ENT (ear, nose and throat) consultant while 63,324 are awaiting an appointment with an orthopaedic consultant. The list also shows high numbers seeking appointments concerning general surgery, dermatology, urology and ophthalmology.

Of the 74,189 on the inpatient/day procedure waiting list, 43,538 have been on the list for less than six months and 13,128 for more than a year. Of 4,149 children on the list, 1,136 have been waiting more than a year.

The most sought after procedures on the list are orthopaedics (10,691); general surgery (10,112); ophthalmology (9,988) and urology (9,619).

The NTPF records the number of patients waiting on nine lists, which includes those waiting for gastro-intestinal procedures and those whose treatment has been suspended.

It does not count patients waiting for diagnostic procedures such as x-rays or MRIs, or those waiting for speech and language therapy, psychology, dietetics and other professional health services.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times