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Dublin: 10°C Thursday 22 October 2020

Record high number of patients waiting for hospital appointments in Ireland

The number of patients waiting for a hospital appointment has jumped by more than 40,000 people in 2019.

There are now 40,000 more people waiting on hospital appointments than the beginning of the year.
There are now 40,000 more people waiting on hospital appointments than the beginning of the year.
Image: Shutterstock/Spotmatik Ltd

THE NUMBER OF patients waiting for their first hospital appointment in Ireland has jumped by more than 40,000 since the beginning of the year, according to data released today. 

The total number of patients now waiting for their first hospital outpatient consultation sits at a record high of 564,829. 

That figure has consistently climbed during the first seven months of the year from 523,225 people who were waiting in January, according to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). 

A further 68,087 patients are also waiting for an appointment for inpatient or day case treatment in July, while some 22,592 people are also waiting to receive an appointment for a GI Endoscopy examination. 

Labour’s health spokesperson Alan Kelly said it was “unacceptable in 2019 that people are left in this situation waiting to be seen” and ” immediate intervention” is needed. 

“There has been a trend in these figures for some time and its quite obvious there is intervention needed following a lack of direct action from HSE, the Department of Health, and Minister Simon Harris. 

It’s clear this trend is going in one direction because of the policies being pursued and this is only going to escalate further if there is no immediate intervention, on a system that is already in crisis.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association also criticised the latest figures saying the recruitment and retention crisis is playing a huge part in the spiralling waiting lists. 

Dr Donal O’Hanlon, IHCA president said: “Looking at what has happened over the past five years, the numbers are even more stark, where the number of patients waiting has grown by over 200,000 over that time.

“The number waiting over 12 months for an outpatient appointment increased by 22,580 since the start of 2019.”

“Ireland is consistently singled out as having the worst waiting lists in Europe and this is never going to improve without the required hospital consultants,” he added.

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