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'Disgrace': Record high in number of people waiting for outpatient appointments

556,411 patients were waiting for their first outpatient consultation at the end of May.

Image: Leon Farrell via RollingNews.ie

WAITING LISTS FOR hospital appointments in Ireland rose significantly last month, with an extra 4,446 waiting for their first hospital outpatient consultation.

The total number of patients waiting for their first outpatient consultation at the end of May was 556,411. 

A further 68,765 patients were waiting for an appointment for their inpatient or day case treatment. 

The latest figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) also shows that 22,113 patients were waiting to receive an appointment for their GI Endoscopy. 

Fianna Fáil’s health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly has hit out at the government over the latest figures. 

“The Minister for Health said he hoped to stabilise outpatient waiting lists during 2019. He didn’t say what this meant but I doubt that anyone could define it as an increase of almost 8% in five months,” Donnelly said. 

The words ‘scandal’ or ‘disgrace’ can be overused in politics, but I think they are the only words we can use in this situation. We have to keep in mind too that when these people finally see a consultant they may also have to wait a long time for any necessary treatment. 

Data published by the NTPF shows that 29,766 people have been given a date for their inpatient/day case or endoscopy procedure. 

78,177 patients are also recorded in the planned procedure category and 64,298 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 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, according to the NTPF. 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.

“The fall in the inpatient/day case waiting list is welcome,” Donnelly said. 

“However, I am concerned that too many people are still waiting too long for treatment with 10,424 waiting over a year,” he said.

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