Over 2,000 patients still miss 18-month deadline despite waiting list blitz
More than 2,000 public patients are still waiting longer than 18 months to see a specialist or to be admitted to hospital for surgery.
This is despite a Government target to have nobody waiting longer than this length of time by the end of June as part of a blitz on waiting lists.
The Department of Health insisted yesterday that it has largely met the target and just 1,988 people are still waiting for an outpatient appointment.
Another group of patients have appointments to be seen this month.
A spokesman for Health Minister Leo Varadkar said another 19 public patients are now on surgical lists for longer than 18 months and this is due to some of the operations being complex.
It means that 95pc of the numbers waiting to see a specialist have been crossed off the list and 99.6pc of surgical patients have been dealt with.
It comes as new waiting list figures for the end of June, drawn up by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), show that 70,564 people nationally are waiting more than a year to see a specialist.
Overall, 402,156 people were on out-patient waiting lists, down from 415,400 in May. There were 8,139 patients on surgical lists for more than a year. The minister has already conceded that the 18-month target was modest but he insisted it was realistic.
The numbers were cut as a result of lists being checked for people who no longer needed treatment and public hospitals stepping up activity. Several hospitals also outsourced work to private facilities.
The department said plans are in place to ensure the next target of having nobody waiting longer than 15 months at the end of the year will be met. This is despite the inevitable pressure on hospital beds as we face into winter.
These plans include the measures set out by the emergency department task force which aims to ease trolley overcrowding and free up hospital beds.
It recently emerged that the HSE has set up an office to facilitate people who want to go abroad for treatment. The treatment will be paid for by the HSE up to the price it would cost if the procedure was carried out here. Travel costs are not included.
The take-up so far has been low, partly due to a failure to publicise it more.
The NTPF figures showed that the highest numbers on surgical lists were waiting for eye treatments.
There was also a considerable backlog for orthopaedic surgery such as hip operations, general surgery and ear, nose and throat operations.
Patients needing surgery for pain relief and plastic surgery and cardiology operations are also among those hardest hit by the backlogs.
Hospitals with highest outpatient waiting lists over 12 months
Galway University Hospital: 8,627
Children’s Hospital, Temple St: 4,086
Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin: 2,494
Tullamore Hospital: 2,836
Mater Hospital: 2,058
Beaumont Hospital: 3,533
Eye and Ear Hospital: 3,234
Tallaght Hospital: 10,425
Cork University Hospital: 5,665
South Infirmary Hospital, Cork: 3,511
University Hospital Limerick: 2,193
Our Lady of Lourdes, Drogheda: 1,469
NATIONAL TOTAL: 70,564
* NTPF figures for the end of June. Department of Health says only a small minority, 1,988, are still waiting longer than 18 months for an appointment