Waiting lists fall as treatment outsourced to private hospitals

State has eight times as many patients waiting over a year for treatment as England

National Treatment Purchase Fund spending €75 million this year on initiatives designed to take people off the inpatient waiting list. Photogrpah:iStock

National Treatment Purchase Fund spending €75 million this year on initiatives designed to take people off the inpatient waiting list. Photogrpah:iStock

 

Inpatient and outpatient waiting lists fell slightly last month as more patients had their treatment outsourced to private hospitals, new figures show.

Yet the State still has eight times as many patients waiting over a year for treatment compared to England, Fianna Fáil has pointed out.

Relative to population, Ireland’s one year-plus waiting list is 100 times worse than England’s, according to the party’s health spokesman Stephen Donnelly.

With the National Treatment Purchase Fund spending €75 million this year on initiatives designed to take people off the inpatient waiting list, the size of the list has been declining during the year.

October saw another decline in the list, down almost 500 to 67,511 the previous month, according to the latest NTPF figures. The figures do not include any data from the three Dublin maternity hospitals.

The outpatient waiting list fell by about 1,500 to 567,221, following a small drop the previous month. Prior to this, the list had been growing by 5,000 to 7,000 patients a month.

There are currently 45,006 children waiting to see a paediatrician for an outpatient appointment in the three Dublin hospitals that make up Children’s Health Ireland, as well as thousands of other children on the lists of individual adult hospitals.

Both Galway University Hospitals and University Hospital Waterford have over 42,000 patients waiting for appointments.

The NTPF says it will significantly increase its focus on outpatient lists next year, as well as starting to fund diagnostic scans for public patients.

Under a government plan published last March, the number of patients on the outpatient waiting list is supposed to fall to 509,000 by the end of the year. It is unlikely this target will be reached.

The number of patients waiting more than a year on the inpatient waiting list in Ireland is eight times times the number in England’s national health service, according to Mr Donnelly.

“Some 10,262 people waiting a year plus on the inpatient /day case list in Irish hospitals last month. This contrasts sharply and very unfavourably with NHS England where the waiting times for consultant-led treatment show 1,233 waiting more than 12 months.”

“It is truly extraordinary that we should have more people waiting longer than the health service in a country with a population more than ten times greater.”

“The NHS England met its ambition to halve 52-week waiters during 2018-19. Unlike in Ireland where the Minister for Health is very unlikely now to meet his targets.”

“Similarly the drop of 1,548 in the outpatient list still leaves it at 567,221 which is still some 51,000 up on the 516,162 at the end of 2018. The Minister sought to stabilise the outpatient waiting list in 2019 but that hasn’t happened. 178,320 outpatients have been waiting over a year.”