An extra 20,000 people on inpatient waiting lists will get treatment this year under a new government plan.
The government has allocated funding for 20,000 procedures, mainly high-volume operations like hip and knee replacements, cataracts, tonsils and angiograms.
The HSE hopes to reduce the number of active patients waiting for an appointment date to 70,000 by the end of the year, a reduction of 12,500.
The plan is a joint effort by the Department of Health, HSE and NTPF and has been allocated €50 million.
"This year, under this new plan, we will see a significant reduction in the number waiting for a procedure," said Minister Simon Harris.
"The target is that the overall number will fall to under 70,000 by the end of the year - from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017.
"All patients who are waiting more than nine months for a cataract, hip and/or knee replacement, tonsils, Gastro Intestinal scope or one of four other high-volume treatments will be offered treatment in 2018 if clinically suitable.
"While the improvements set out in the plan are significant, they are just the start and my ambition is to build upon this progress in 2019 and to further reduce waiting time for Irish patients."
The news comes as 548 patients are waiting for beds in hospitals nationwide today.
This is an increase of 59% on the same day last year when there were 345 patients on trolleys.