Goverment come under fire as waiting list figures reach record high

The Government has come in for considerable criticism today after new figures revealed a record 707,000 patients remain on hospital waiting lists.

The figures, from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), have reached their highest level ever, with 511,904 patients waiting for their first appointment at an outpatient clinic. Of these, almost 80,000 are waiting more than a year-and-a-half. More than 44,000 outpatients are children.

Another 78,000 people are on inpatient lists, awaiting surgery.

The hospital group with the highest outpatient waiting list, of 108,132, is the south/southwest, comprised of hospitals in Cork, Kerry, Waterford and South Tipperary.

Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty said Mr Varadkar had promised when taking over as Taoiseach that he would take a special interest in health.

“We now see that special interest has amounted to overseeing an increase in hospital waiting lists to record highs,” he said.

Fianna Fáil health spokesperson Stephen Donnelly said: “Things have gotten so bad that it’s beginning to make James Reilly’s tenure look like a golden age.”

Responding to the criticism Education Minister Richard Bruton said that the lengths of time people were waiting on lists overall was falling.

“Of course any system will have people who are joining the waiting list as it is not an immediate service, but most of these patients are there less than six months and 75% are treated within 12 months,” he said

- Digital Desk, Juno McEnroe and Catherine Shanahan

* Read Catherine Shanahan and Juno McEnroe's full analysis on this issue in tomorrow's Irish Examiner

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