Outpatient waiting list rises to new high

More than 510,000 patients waiting for appointments while inpatient lists fall slightly

The number of people awaiting outpatient medical appointments has risen for a third consecutive month and has remained above the half million mark for the duration of 2018.

As the Government continues to grapple with the problem of service capacity, public outpatient figures for May show there were 511,904 people still due treatment.

That figure rose from 507,507 in April and from 504,111 in March. Although there was a slight drop between January and February, the bloated waiting list has remained above the 500,000 mark.

When the list breached that level in January, it was only the second time it had done so since the National Purchase Treatment Fund (NPTF) began releasing monthly tallies.


Of those listed in the May total, 79,647 have been waiting for more than a year and a half for their appointments, including over 10,000 children.

However, inpatient and day case procedures have been falling in the last few months. In May, those awaiting procedures were at 78,596, dropping from 79,414 the previous month and from 80,058 at the end of March.

Of those, 13,594 have been waiting to have their cases finalised for more than a year.

Separate figures released by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) showed there were 388 people waiting on trolleys in hospitals on Wednesday. Those figures cover patients waiting to be seen by doctors in both wards and emergency departments.

The highest number, 53 patients, were found in University Hospital Limerick which features regularly among those hospitals with high trolley watch figures.

In the three national children’s hospitals, there was only one child left waiting on a trolley. The INMO recently began monitoring children’s situations following concerns of worsening waiting times there.

“The presence of trolleys in paediatric hospitals is a new phenomenon and the INMO Children’s Nurses Section highlighted that these trolleys numbers have not previously been included in the count,” it said last January.

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times