More than 900,000 people on hospital waiting lists

Increase of almost 124,000 since August 2019 as IHCA says figures will soon top 1 million

More than 900,000 people are on a hospital waiting list in the Republic, according to the latest data from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

Figures published on Friday evening show there are 907,617 people waiting be treated or assessed by a consultant, an increase of 66,167 people or 8 per cent since this time last year.

The figures represent an increase of almost 124,000 since August 2019 and prompted the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) to warn that the numbers waiting for either a treatment or a consultation will soon top a million.

According to the data for the end of August, there were 652,344 patients waiting for a first hospital outpatient consultation with a further 75,720 patients waiting for an appointment for their inpatient or day case treatment and 32,636 patients waiting to receive an appointment for a GI Endoscopy.

The NTPF also publishes data on Pre-admit, Planned Procedure and Suspension lists.

There were 90,832 patients recorded as being in the Planned Procedure category with 62,805 of these patients given indicative dates in the future or an appointment. The Pre-Admit data shows that 23,615 have been given a date for Inpatient/Daycase or Endoscopy procedure.

There were also 32,470 patients who were classified as suspended. These include those who are temporarily unfit or unable to attend due to clinical or personal reasons. The auspension category is also used where patients are being treated through various Insourcing or Outsourcing Initiatives.

While the launch of Sláintecare in May 2017 set out significant reforms and plans to address timely access to care, analysis shows that waiting lists have continued to grow in the four years since then.

The IHCA said the numbers waiting for an outpatient appointment had increased by more than 173,000 in that time period, adding that there was a record 192,764 people now waiting longer than 18 months for an outpatient appointment with 14,263 waiting on hospital treatment.

“Those of us who work in healthcare have proven that even in the most unprecedented of challenges, we can deliver solutions. It is now beyond time for those in leadership positions to do likewise,” said IHCA president Prof Alan Irvine.

Describing it as “another sobering week in healthcare” he warned that reducing the 907,617 people on some form of waiting list would take years to achieve. “But that process needs to start without delay to arrest the almost out-of-control situation.”

Conor Pope

Conor Pope

Conor Pope is Consumer Affairs Correspondent, Pricewatch Editor and cohost of the In the News podcast