Small reduction in waiting lists but 515,000 still queuing for out-patient appointment

Figures show 71,000 waiting for in-patient or day case procedure in public hospitals

The National Treatment Purchase Fund said 20,512 public patients waiting for surgery had accepted an offer of treatment funded by the organisation. File photograph: ThinkStock

The National Treatment Purchase Fund said 20,512 public patients waiting for surgery had accepted an offer of treatment funded by the organisation. File photograph: ThinkStock

 

The number of patients on waiting lists in public hospitals has fallen slightly over the last month, new official figures show.

There were just under 71,000 people waiting for an in-patient or day case hospital procedure at the end of November – down about 1,000 on the figures recorded in October.

There figures show there were 515,300 people queuing for an out-patient appointment with a hospital consultant which also represented a fall of about 1,000 on the October figures.

The number of people waiting longer than 9 months for a first out-patient appointment, at more than 196,000, increased by about 1,000.

The figures, released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), also revealed that the number of patients waiting for an appointment for a gastro-intestinal endoscopy increased by 420 in November to 18,302.

The NTPF said 20,512 public patients waiting for surgery had accepted an offer of treatment funded by the organisation. It said this work had “contributed to a significant reduction in the number of public patients waiting for an appointment for surgery, which peaked at 86,111 in July 2017”.

The NTPF also said it had arranged 4,000 gastrointestinal scopes to be carried out so far this year.

Priority

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said improving access for patients was a key priority and the new figures highlighted that continued progress was being made by the HSE and the NTPF.

He said the out-patient waiting list, at more than 500,000, remained a “ significant challenge”. However, he welcomed the small reduction in the numbers waiting in the last month.

“The number of patients on the out-patient list has remained relatively stable since August, albeit at a very elevated level of 515,000, and we will build on this stability in 2019.”

“Improving access remains a priority in 2019 and the Government has further increased investment in this area with NTPF funding increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2019,” the Minister said.

Mr Harris said the number of patients waiting for an in-patient or day case procedure had fallen to 70,989, from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017.

He said this represented an 18 per cent reduction in the overall number of patients waiting for a procedure.

“The figures show that significant progress is being made in meeting the Sláintecare recommendation that patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure. Since July 2017, the number of patients waiting longer than 3 months has fallen from just under 58,000 to 41,600, a fall of 16,400 or 28percent .”