Over 459,000 people on hospital waiting lists

A total of 459,487 patients were waiting for hospital diagnosis and treatment at the end of December 2015, according to the latest figures published by the Department of Health. Maureen Browne reports.

There were over 68,000 patients waiting for in patient or day care treatment, more than 375,440 waiting for an outpatient appointment and almost 16,000 waiting for a GI Endoscopy.

Of those waiting for inpatient/day care treatment 459 were waiting over 18 months, while 746 were waiting over 15 months.

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Of those waiting to see a specialist at an outpatient clinic, 9,887 were waiting over 15 months and 5,262 over 18 months.

There were 147 patients waiting over 15 months and 61 waiting over 18 months for a GI Endoscopy.

The figures show that there was a total of over 21,000 patients waiting more than 15 months for care – the maximum permissible waiting time set down by the Department of Health for the end of 2015.

Of those waiting for inpatient/day care treatment 459 were waiting over 18 months, while 746 were waiting over 15 months.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that the figures showed progress against the 15 months maximum wait as follows:

“For In-patient and Day Case waiting lists, overall performance equated to 95% achievement of the 15 month maximum permissible wait time and for outpatient waiting lists, overall performance equated to 93% achievement of the 15 month maximum permissible wait time.”

The spokesperson said it should also be noted that a number of patients who had not yet had appointments had been scheduled for treatments or appointments in the coming weeks.

Inpatient / Day Case (IPDC) Waiting List

The Department said there were reductions in the total inpatient / day case (IPDC) waiting list, and in the numbers of patients waiting over 15 months and waiting over 18 months.  The data clearly showed that substantial progress had been made in addressing those patients waiting longest.  The number of patients waiting over 15 months (includes over 18 months) was reduced by 77% (-2,547) during December and the number of patients waiting over 18 months reduced by 70% (-1,074).

Outpatients Waiting List

Similarly, there were reductions in the total number of people waiting for outpatient appointments which had now fallen to around 375,000, the lowest number in 2015, a reduction of over 10,000 in the overall outpatient waiting lists.

GI Endoscopy Waiting List

The Department spokesperson said it was also very welcome to see substantial reductions in numbers of patients awaiting routine GI endoscopy in all three categories. These reductions had been facilitated by a dedicated GI Endoscopy Initiative commenced by the NTPF at the end of September 2015, which had now successfully concluded. The initiative targeted patients waiting over 12 months before the end of December 2015 for a routine endoscope and had offered those patients an external appointment.

“Of the target cohort of 2,652 GI scope patients potentially waiting over 12 months at the end of December 2015, a total of 2,438 have been treated. This represents an achievement of 92% of the target.  The HSE has in place a weekly monitoring system to ensure that all patients referred for an urgent colonoscopy are seen within a 28 day target time. A policy of zero tolerance applies to any breaches. “

Scoliosis Waiting List

“At the end of December 2015, there were no active patients waiting 15 months or more for spinal surgery at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin.  Last year, 100 scoliosis surgeries were carried out (67 full spinal surgeries carried out in Crumlin and a further 33 patients on the Crumlin waiting list were treated at other hospitals).  This is a 51% increase on the number of such surgeries carried out in 2014 (66).  In addition, 39 more patients from the Crumlin waiting list have now been transferred to either the Blackrock Clinic or to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital at Stanmore for treatment over the next few weeks. Concerted efforts will continue to be made to make further inroads into the scoliosis waiting list. “