Sunday 24 March 2019

Hospital waiting lists rise again as a record 523,225 are in the queue

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Hospital waiting lists are on the rise again with a record 523,225 public patients now in the queue to see a specialist.

The number of patients waiting for surgery also rose last month to 72,027 , up from 70,804 in December.

The upturn marks another disappointing start to the year for many patients who are desperate for treatment.

If all public patients on some form of hospital waiting list are counted it means a massive 729,937 are facing delays.

The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund  (NTPF) also show a rise in the numbers waiting for an endoscopy – up to 19,848 compared to 18,847 in December.

The nurses strike at the end of January resulted in cancellation of clinics and surgery –but this does not account for the full underlying trend.

In addition, the NTPF publishes data on pre-admit, planned procedure and suspension lists. 

The pre-admit data shows that 27,310 have been given a date for their inpatient / daycase or endoscopy procedure.

Some 75,175 patients are recorded in the planned procedure category and 62,044 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 (eg 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 12,452 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 NTPF said it has been allocated €75m in 2019, an increase of €20m on 2018 to purchase treatments for public patients.

In 2019, the Fund will arrange treatment for 25,000 patients on the active Inpatient / Daycase (IPDC) waiting list, 5,000 Gastrointestinal Endoscopies and 40,000 first-time outpatient consultant appointments.  

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