Hospital outpatient waiting list hits new record high of 556,411
The crisis in hospital outpatient waiting lists has deepened as shocking new figures reveal a new record of 556,411 patients in the queue for a first time appointment to see a consultant.
It means there has been a jump of 40,000 more patients on the outpatient list since the end of last year.
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 at the end of last year.
The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) said that in addition the pre-admit data shows that 29,766 have been given a date for their Inpatient, daycase or endoscopy procedure.
Some 78,177 patients are recorded in the Planned Procedure category and 64,298 of these patients have indicative dates in the future or have an appointment.
These are patients who have already had treatment and require further treatment at a future date (e.g. a patient who has had a scope may require surveillance monitoring scopes in the future) and have been assigned indicative dates for treatment.
These indicative dates are determined by a clinician and treatment before these dates would not be appropriate. As more patients are initially seen and given a follow-up appointment for ongoing treatment or surveillance the number of patients on the Planned Procedure list increases.
Some 12,985 patients are classified as suspended. Patients who are temporarily unfit or unable to attend due to clinical or personal/social reasons are categorised as 'Suspension'.
The suspension category is also used where patients are being treated through various insourcing or outsourcing initiatives.
The Minister for Health Simon Harris said that Budget 2019 announced that the Government had further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the NTPF increasing from €55m in 2018 to €75m in 2019.
He said a key element of plan is the stabilisation of the outpatient waiting list.
Under the plan the HSE aims to deliver 3.3 outpatient appointments, of which approximately 1m will be first appointments.
The plan also includes a target 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 target takes into account the more than 800,000 new patients who will be added to the Outpatient waiting list in 2019; a figure that is based on trends for the previous two years.