Saturday 18 January 2020

Over half a million on waiting list to see hospital consultant

Health Minister Simon Harris
Health Minister Simon Harris

The number of patients on a waiting list for a first-time appointment with a hospital consultant has spiralled to a new record of 556,411.

The shocking figures show 106,145 of these patients have been in the queue for more than 18 months.

It means there has been a jump of 40,000 patients on the outpatient list since the end of last year.

Fianna Fail health spokesman Stephen Donnelly branded the queues a "scandal" and a "disgrace".

"The real concern, as ever, is for the long waiters with an even bigger percentage increase, 18pc, in the numbers waiting over 18 months," Mr Donnelly said.

"Some 106,145 have been waiting since at least November 2017."

Figures for May show some improvement in waiting lists for public patients needing surgery.

The surgical waiting list now stands at 68,765 compared to 70,204 in December.

Another 22,113 are waiting for a gastrointestinal scope procedure, up from 18,847.

Health Minister Simon Harris said Budget 2019 had further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) increasing from €55m in 2018 to €75m in 2019.

He said a key element of the plan was the stabilisation of the outpatient waiting list.

The HSE aims to deliver 3.3 million outpatient appointments, of which around a million will be first appointments.


The plan also targets that the number of patients waiting for a first outpatient appointment will fall from over 516,000 at the end of 2018 to under 509,000 by the end of 2019.

This takes into account the more than 800,000 new patients who will be added to the outpatient waiting list in 2019, a figure based on trends for the previous two years.

Mr Donnelly said despite the improvement in figures for surgery, some 10,424 were still facing delays of over a year.

He said the NTPF offer of private treatment to public patients waiting longest should kick in earlier. It previously offered treatment after a three-month wait.

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