Number on hospital waiting lists up 20,000


Nearly 10 per cent of the population is on an outpatient waiting list, according to new figures from the Health Service Executive.

The number waiting for a first-time outpatient appointment last month was 385,462, up about 20,000 on the previous month.

More than 115,000 people have been waiting for more than 12 months for an appointment while 185,000 have been waiting for longer than six months. According to the HSE, 11,805 patients are on the waiting lists for more than four years.

The HSE admitted waiting times were unacceptably long and promised a systematic and standardised approach to reduce waiting times. This will involve a restructuring of outpatient services to ensure a more patient-centred approach, including the introduction of advance booking and scheduling of appointments.

Hospitals would also be required to see patients in order of “clinical acuity”, with urgent referrals seen first and routine appointments dealt with in chronological order, the HSE’s performance report for September states.

The HSE is still failing to reach targets for performance in emergency departments. No hospital reached the target of 95 per cent of all attendees being discharged or admitted within six hours; in September, almost 70 per cent of patients were dealt with in this period.

No hospital reached the target of 100 per cent of admissions within nine hours of registration; in September, 64 per cent of patients were dealt with in this period.

Regarding the performance in relation to children’s waiting lists, the target was that no child would wait longer than 20 weeks for an elective procedure by the end of September, but 9 per cent of children were waiting longer than targeted, down more than 1,400 since January.

The HSE says focus will be paid to the area of prostate cancer, after only 40 per cent of patients were offered an appointment within 20 days.