Number of patients waiting for appointments up 4,000 in a month

Another new record for outpatient waiting lists following industrial action in hospitals


Hospital waiting lists have reached another record high with the numbers waiting for an outpatient appointment climbing by more than 4,000 in just one month.

The outpatient waiting list grew to 560,251 at the end of June from 556,411 a month earlier, according to new data from the National Purchase Treatment Fund (NTPF). The figure is up almost 45,000 since the end of last year.

The number of people waiting for inpatient or daycase treatments also climbed from 68,765, to 69,671 while patients waiting to receive an appointment for a GI Endoscopy went up from 22,113 to 22,758

The increases are likely due to industrial action by health services support staff in hospitals across the State last month, which saw many scheduled appointments cancelled or delayed.

As well as the inpatient and outpatient lists, the NTPF maintains separate lists for patients whose treatment is imminent; patients who have already had treatment and will require more; and patients whose treatment is suspended.

The data shows that 29,520 people have been given a date for their inpatient or day case or endoscopy procedure while 78,218 patients are recorded in the planned procedure category and 64,448 of these patients have indicative dates in the future or have an appointment.

A further 13,339 patients are classified as suspended. Patients who are temporarily unfit or unable to attend due to clinical or personal/social reasons are categorised as ‘Suspension’ and the category is also used where patients are being treated through various other channels.

The latest list data show no sign of any relief for outpatients enduring long waits said Fianna Fáil’s Health spokesman , Stephen Donnelly.

“Every month so far this year we have seen another new high for the outpatient waiting lists. In June it rose to 560,251,” he said.

He pointed out that over 174,000 of the people waiting for a consultation had been doing so for more than a year and described that as “an extraordinary total”.

He accused the Minister for Health Simon Harris of setting “a very unambitious goal for 2019 of stabilising the outpatient list” and said that an increase of almost 8 per cent since the end of last year “shows that even that target has been missed too”.

Meanwhile University Hospital Limerick has apologised to patients facing long waits in its emergency department as the weekend starts. There were 75 patients waiting for admission to the hospital on Friday morning.

It said there had been a surge in presentations to emergency departments this week while access to transitional care and home care package funding had been reduced over recent weeks which had led to an increase in delayed discharges.

In a statement the hospital said surgery had been curtailed over recent days so bed capacity could be used for patients in the ED and it appealed to the public to use the emergency department for emergencies only.