Number waiting more than a year for hospital consultant treatment falls by 95%
Waiting list for oupatient appointments with specialists falls by 25%
Dr Reilly told the Dáil there had been more than 100,000 additional outpatient appointments provided last year as against 2012. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien.
The number of people waiting longer than one year for an outpatient appointment with a hospital consultant has fallen by 95 per cent, Minister for Health James Reilly has said.
Speaking in the Dáil last night he said figures for the end of 2013 showed that there were 4,626 people waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment. He said this compared with 103,433 people waiting longer than one year for an outpatient appointment at the end of March 2013.
Dr Reilly said that overall there had been a reduction of 25 per cent in the total number of people waiting for outpatient appointments with hospital specialists. He said there had been more than 100,000 additional outpatient appointments provided last year as against 2012.
Dr Reilly said he had put in place an initiative to establish properly for the first time the scale of the numbers on the outpatient waiting list and to put in place a mechanism to methodically reduce that figure.
“The reduction by 95 per cent in the numbers on the list over 12 months represents real progress in our health system. I congratulate all those involved, the special delivery unit (SDU), the National Treatment Purchase Fund and in particular those on the front lines in our hospitals around the country for working so hard to ensure that the longest waiters have been so thoroughly prioritised.”
Dr Reilly was replying in the Dáil last night to a Fianna Fáil Private Members’ motion claiming that the HSE’s national service plan was inadequate to meet fully all of the growing demands being placed on the health services and that lack of sufficient resources would not be in the best interests of patient care, which was already evident in accident and emergency departments.
Party health spokesman Billy Kelleher said the last three estimates for the health service had been inadequate in terms of maintaining services in a manner that preserved patient safety and the provision of care.
“Time and again we have listened to eminent professionals, senior clinicians, front-line staff, saying they simply cannot maintain safe services in emergency departments and in the wider hospital system throughout the country,” he added.
Separately last night the Department of Health said that in relation to adult patients requiring elective or non-urgent procedures, 99.99 per cent were now on waiting lists for less than the target of eight months.
It said just four patients had exceeded this target. It said this represented a very positive achievement, particularly in light of the decision to reduce the target waiting period from nine months in 2012 to eight months last year.
The department also said 95 per cent of children waiting for inpatient or day-case surgery were waiting less than 20 weeks. It said Dr Reilly had acknowledged his targets had not been fully achieved last year.
“A huge amount of work remains to be done on this issue but I congratulate all those involved and I know plans have been made by the SDU working with the HSE to move from the high 90s to 100 per cent achievement against all the targets set. I have emphasised continually that priority must be given to taking care of those patients waiting the longest and hospitals have proven, and continue to prove, that they can do this, even in an environment of constrained resources,” the Minister said.
“The dedication and commitment of staff in achieving these targets, whilst ensuring that those in greatest clinical need are prioritised, deserves to be acknowledged.”