Department lost count of patients on 'hidden list'
THE Department of Health has admitted it has no idea of how many patients are on a "hidden waiting list" for outpatient treatment.
It is estimated that up to 175,000 people are waiting to be seen in outpatient clinics -- some for as long as eight years -- to assess whether they need treatment.
There is also another hidden list of people who are being refused permission by hospitals to even go on outpatient waiting lists.
Fine Gael TD Bernard Allen said that while the numbers of patients on waiting lists for hospital procedures had come down in recent years, waiting lists for outpatient procedures had "gone through the roof". "I would say that the numbers are being massaged by keeping people on outpatient waiting lists," he said.
At the Public Accounts committee, Department of Health secretary-general Michael Scanlan agreed that the statistics did not give the "full picture".
He condemned hospitals who were not accepting patients on to their outpatient lists, saying it was "not acceptable".