Saturday 24 March 2018

Hospital waiting list hits new high

Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris Photo: Frank McGrath
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospital waiting lists have reached yet another record - with 517,000 public patients now in the queue for an outpatient appointment, surgery or diagnostic procedure.

The grim figures for June show the respite in the numbers of patients on trolleys in emergency departments last month delivered little benefit for patients on hospital lists.

The queues built up over winter as patients from emergency departments had to be prioritised for hospital beds. This led to thousands of patients having surgery put on hold.

It is now certain that Health Minister Simon Harris will have to invest substantial funding in outsourcing many of these patients to private hospitals.

Fianna Fáil's spokesman on mental health, Deputy James Browne, said it was a matter of huge concern that some 76,696 patients are now waiting for in-patient or day case surgery.

He said: "The waiting lists for hospital procedures have been on a consistent upward trend for some two years now.

"The corresponding figure for June 2014 was 52,595 so we have seen an increase of almost 46pc since then.

"Government targets have been consistently missed, even when they were widened.

"An 18-month target to be achieved one year ago has been missed and 3,038 people are now waiting more than a year and a half for treatment."

The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show 420,545 people on outpatient waiting lists and 19,850 are waiting for an internal scope investigation.

Mr Browne said: "Minister Harris and the HSE really need to get a grip on this."

Irish Independent

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