Numbers of patients on hospital waiting lists and on trolleys soar

371,829 people waiting for outpatient appointment, the ninth consecutive month in which list has grown

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: “These measures will take some time to work . . . this means  the numbers are likely to get worse over the next few months before they get better.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar: “These measures will take some time to work . . . this means the numbers are likely to get worse over the next few months before they get better.” Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

Hospital waiting lists, trolley numbers and delays in discharging well patients continue to soar, according to the latest figures from the Health Service Executive. Almost 372,000 people were waiting for an outpatient appointment at the end of September, up from 300,000 at the end of last year.

The figures are set to get worse over the coming months, according to Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. “We will be taking further action to speed up delayed discharges and reduce the number of people who are waiting far too long for operations or outpatient appointment, but these measures will take some time to work and will not show up in HSE reports until the middle of next year. This means that the numbers are likely to get worse over the next few months before they get better.”

He said the performance of the acute hospital sector, which is unable to cope with rising patient demand despite being heavily overspent, was “of concern”.

The HSE is still forecasting a total overspend of €510 million at the end this year, so a supplemental budget will be required to balance its books. This figure could rise further due to escalating overspending an expected overrun on costs incurred by the State Claims Agency, which may exceed €100 million.

A total of 371,829 people are waiting for an outpatient appointment, according to the HSE’s performance assurance report for September, the ninth consecutive month in which the list has grown. There were 300,752 people on outpatient lists at the end of last year.

The number waiting on the list for more than a year has risen from 4,937 at the end of last year to 41,604 in August and 46,642 in September. The waiting list for inpatient daycare treatment rose again from 8,689 in August to 9,393 in September. This compares to just four adults waiting more than eight months on the list at the end of 2013. The number of children waiting more than eight months on the inpatient and day-case list rose from 1 ,749 to 1,930. The number of delayed discharges stands at 746, while 2,040 people are waiting an average of 15 weeks to access the Fair Deal nursing home scheme.

There are big budget overruns at University Hospital Limerick (€21.1 million), Waterford Regional Hospital (€11.3 million) and the Mater Hospital (€10.7 million).