The number of people awaiting outpatient appointments in public hospitals continued to climb in February, adding more than 1,000 new patients over the month.
Data published on Friday shows there are now 626,658 people on the list, which had been declining during the last three months of 2021.
In response to the latest numbers, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said the Government's recently launched Waiting List Action Plan had "fallen at the first hurdle".
Monthly updates, reported by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), the organisation responsible for monitoring trends and patient flows, shows that following a brief reprieve, waiting lists for outpatients continue to mount.
The number of children on the outpatient list rose in the month from 84,916 to 85,957.
The IHCA, which continues to press for additional consultants, also noted that 896,600 people are on some form of public hospital waiting list, almost 100,000 of whom are children.
“Consultants have raised concerns that outpatient waiting lists will need to decrease by an average of 13,900 per month between now and the end of 2022 if the overall Waiting List Action Plan target of reducing the number awaiting an outpatient appointment to 487,000 is to be achieved,” it said on Friday.
“More than 118,600 people have been added to NTPF waiting lists since the start of the pandemic two years ago - an increase of 15 per cent.”
In overall terms, the Association said outpatient lists have increased by 68,000 (12 per cent) since 2020, with the number of those waiting to be assessed by a consultant almost doubling to 626,658, a rise of 94 per cent, in the past eight years .
The Irish Patients Association also raised concerns, noting that 32,350 children are now waiting more than 12 months for an outpatient appointment.
“Our concern is that these patients, be they waiting to see a consultant or have an operation, should be urgently reviewed by their consultant to ensure that there is no deterioration in their condition,” it said of patients generally.