Out-patient waiting list surges to more than 385,000

Public hospital waiting lists continue to grow, new HSE figures show


Waiting lists in the State’s public hospitals are continuing to rise with the numbers waiting for an out-patient appointment now close to 400,000, figures published published by the HSE show.

The figures reveal increases in numbers on waiting lists for out-patient appointments, as well as in-patient and day-case procedures in hospitals.

At the end of December there were 385,781 people on the out-patient waiting list. The HSE’s performance assurance report for December also shows that the numbers waiting longer than one year to attend a public hospital out-patient clinic increased.

The report says that in December 2014 the number of patients waiting in excess of 12 months for an out-patient appointment increased from 55,733 to 61,400.

A similar performance report published by the HSE a number of weeks ago showed that in November there were 382,000 people waiting for a hospital outpatient appointment.

“The HSE is currently developing a number of options to address and respond to the significant increase in need for scheduled care capacity,” the report says. “It should be noted that increased focus by the HSE in the area of out-patients will have a concomitant impact on in-patient and day-case treatment requirements (and waiting lists).”

It continues: “Similarly, the rise in the requirement for emergency admissions has reduced scheduled care capacity which has in turn, impacted on the total number of patients awaiting treatment. All of these factors contribute to the current trend in waiting lists.”

The report also shows that the total number of adults on a hospital in-patient waiting list was 16,801 compared with 16,244 in November. The report shows that the number of adult patients waiting longer than eight months for a planned procedure in hospital is also rising.

The numbers waiting over eight months in December stood at 13,415, up 875 or 7 per cent on the figure for November.

The report says that the number of children waiting more than 20 weeks for a hospital procedure stood at 2,282 in December, an increase of 48 or just over 2 per cent on the figures recorded in November.

The HSE report also reveals that the financial deficit it recorded in 2014 was €549 million.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said that while there were some small-scale improvements last year, the latest HSE performance report “ also shows the scale of the challenge confronting the health service”.

“Waiting lists were generally longer throughout 2014 but towards the end of the year we began to see some improvements,” he said. “There was a small reduction in the number of people waiting more than 13 weeks for a routine gastro-intestinal endoscopy in December. The HSE, in partnership with the National Treatment Purchase Fund, is running a targeted initiative to address patients waiting over 13 weeks for such treatment.”

He added: “In 2014, we exceeded our targets for specialist palliative care provided within seven days of referral, for those in inpatient beds and for people in their own homes. The number of people receiving Home Care Packages at 13,199 was 21 percent above the 2014 target. We just about met our 2014 target for the number of home help hours provided.”