New hospital waiting list figures, published by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), show that 515,280 people on the active waiting lists are waiting longer than the Sláintecare maximum wait time targets.
The 2017 Sláintecare Report recommended maximum wait times of no more than 12 weeks for an inpatient / day case (IPDC) procedure or GI scope and 10 weeks for a new outpatient (OPD) appointment.
At end of February 2023, 53,847 people were exceeding the 12-week IPDC target; 11,315 were exceeding the 12-week GI Scope; and 450,118 people were exceeding the 10-week OPD target.
The February data is the first time the NTPF is reporting on the number of patients on waiting lists exceeding Sláintecare recommended wait times.
In a statement to coincide with the publication of the data, the Department of Health said the 515,280 figure represents an 18 per cent (111,971) decrease compared to the waiting list peaks experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020/21, and a 9 per cent (50,841) decrease compared to February 2022.
“This also represents a 12 per cent (72,150) decrease compared to the start of the multi-annual approach to addressing waiting lists in September 2021.”
The 2023 Waiting List Action Plan was published earlier this week (7 March).
It allocates €363 million, as the next stage of the multi-annual approach to sustainably reduce and reform hospital waiting lists and waiting times.
Another €80 million was allocated in Budget 2023 for various community/primary care waiting list initiatives.
The Department pointed out that 1.56 million patients were removed from hospital waiting lists in 2022 following interventions by both the HSE and NTPF through the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan.
“1.53 million people were added to waiting lists during this same period, so these removals in 2022 resulted in a net reduction of 30,000 people (4.1 per cent), the first annual reduction in waiting lists achieved since 2015,” according to the Department.
The HSE has also commenced publishing hospital activity data on the volumes on patients seen and treated in hospitals.
According to the Department, this is to provide further “context for the waiting lists data”.