13,000 outpatients in wait for appointments
The number of outpatients waiting over 18 months for an appointment has increased again.
New figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) reveal that there were 13,353 people waiting 18 months or over for an outpatient appointment at the end of October - up from 13,176 at the end of the previous month.
The Department of Health said in a statement that it was "disappointing" to see that the number of people waiting over 18 months has increased slightly.
"Similarly, the slow rate of decrease in those waiting over 18 months for inpatient or day case procedures is concerning, particularly when this is contrasted with the more significant decrease in the number of patients waiting between 15 to 18 months," it said.
Leo Varadkar's department said that it has requested the HSE to follow the issues up with hospitals as a matter of urgency.
"The HSE has directed all hospitals to prioritise these cases within the overall outsourcing programme," it said.
However, it noted that there are reductions in the total number of people waiting for an outpatient appointment "which has fallen below 400,000 for the first time this year."
"Through facilitating additional clinics outside conventional working hours or by outsourcing where capacity is limited, the end of October sees a reduction of almost 5,000 in the overall outpatient waiting lists and of over 3,000 in the number of people waiting between 15 to 18 months for appointments," it said.
Elsewhere in the health service, the focus continues on the crisis within emergency departments.
It emerged yesterday that Essie Tiernan (93), from the Naul in north Dublin, spent 29 hours on a trolley at Beaumont Hospital before being admitted on Thursday evening.
Her grand-niece Michelle Cleary told RTE that the elderly lady had a very traumatic time there, while waiting for a bed.
The hospital said it regretted the difficult conditions experienced by patients and staff in the ED.
It said that Beaumont has one of the busiest ED's in the country.
The hospital said that 33 inpatient ward beds are not available due to essential refurbishment.