Waiting list figures spark FF call for detail on outpatient action plan

Release of latest figures indicated that more than 500,000 still on list in public hospitals

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Health said “the outpatient waiting list remains a significant challenge”. File photograph: Getty Images

A spokeswoman for the Minister for Health said “the outpatient waiting list remains a significant challenge”. File photograph: Getty Images


Fianna Fáil has demanded Minister for Health Simon Harris reveal details of his promised outpatient action plan.

The call comes following release of latest hospital waiting list figures that show more than 500,000 people remain on the list. Data published on Friday evening showed that at the end of last month there were 511,415 people on the outpatient waiting list in public hospitals, down slightly from 511,904 at the end of May.

It is the first decline in four months, but the number has remained above the half million mark for the duration of the year.

Fianna Fáil health spokesman Stephen Donnelly called on Mr Harris to publish his outpatient action plan.

“While the overall numbers on the outpatient list has not risen further, the numbers waiting more than one year, and indeed 18 months, has continued its upward trend,” he said.

The figures show outpatients now waiting for 18 months or longer for a consultation appointment rose from 79,647 at the end of May to 80,697 at the end of last month. The data was published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund which monitors lists.

“We are now three years on from then Health Minister Leo Varadkar setting an 18-month target for waiting times,” said Mr Donnelly.

“On top of this, it’s now July and we have still to see the outpatient action plan for 2018 which was promised by the Minister for Health. This is now urgently needed.”

Mr Donnelly said there was also further work required to meet Government targets of inpatient- and day-case waiting lists falling below 70,000 by the end of the year.

That number declined from 78,596 at the end of May to 78,014 last month.

Responding to the latest figures, a spokeswoman for the Minister noted that those waiting for an operation or procedure has fallen by 8,000 compared to this time last summer. The number of patients waiting longer than nine months is down 6,400 in comparison to June 2017.

“The outpatient waiting list remains a significant challenge. But the Minister is committed to continuing to work to ensure that the progress we’re seeing on the hospital waiting lists is also reflected in the outpatient lists,” she said.

Meanwhile, on Friday the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation published its daily ward monitoring figures showing 289 people were left on trolleys in hospitals around the country. The figures was down 4 per cent on the same day in 2017.

The highest numbers were recorded at University Hospital Limerick (44 patients), University Hospital Waterford (38) and Tallaght Hospital in Dublin (36).