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Number of people on hospital waiting lists reached over half a million last month

The NTPF’s figures also found that there had been a decrease of 1,471 patients waiting for an appointment for elective surgery

THE NUMBER OF people waiting for an outpatient hospital appointment at the end of September stood at over half a million. 

According to the National Treatment Purchase Fund’s (NTPF) most recent figures, last month saw 515,547 patients waiting for treatments or to be seen by a doctor, an increase of 962 when compared to August. 

Fianna Fáil Health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has said that these figures are “just not acceptable that people should wait so long”.

Not only is it a source of anxiety for the patient, it is counterproductive as delayed treatment could have an impact on outcomes.

“This is only one example of the lengthy delays that patients are experiencing.  These need to be addressed and the National Treatment Purchase Fund should be optimised to make that a reality,” Donnelly said in a statement.

‘Real progress has been made’

The NTPF’s figures also found that there had been a decrease of 1,471 patients waiting for an appointment for elective surgery at the end of September.

The number waiting on the active inpatient list was 72,718, which includes 4,155 children. 

Minister for Health Simon Harris said that this month’s figures show that the investments made by the Government are delivering and he is “pleased to see that the number of patients on the waiting list has fallen again this month”. 

“Irish patients want and deserve timely access to hospital procedures and appointments,” Harris said in a statement. 

This month’s figures represent a 16% reduction from peak figures in July 2017, when 86,100 patients were waiting for an inpatient or day case procedure. 

Budget 2019 has promised a further investment in this area, with funding to the NTPF set to increase by €20 million. 

Harris has said that as a result of the investment the number of patients waiting for a hospital procedure is projected to fall to below 59,000 by end 2019.

The NTPF has stated that by the end of the year, all patients waiting more than nine months for one of these procedures, who are clinically suitable for outsourcing, will have received an offer of treatment.

NTPF Chief Executive Liam Sloyan said:

The number of patients on the waiting list for elective surgery has been steadily falling over the past 14 months, with almost 1,500 fewer patients waiting for treatment at the end of September than at the end of August.

“We have made a particular impact in reducing the numbers of patients waiting for the highest volume procedures and reducing the number of people waiting more than nine months for their procedure, achieving a 32% decrease since July 2017.

“Real progress has been made for public patients and the NTPF will use its increased €75m 2019 budget efficiently and effectively to build on this work next year,” Sloyan said in a statement. 

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