More than half a million waiting for a first hospital outpatient appointment

A total of 546,630 patients are waiting for outpatient appointments in Ireland, new figures from The National Treatment Purchase Fund reveal.

There are 101,724 patients waiting more than 18 months, which is a record high for a patient waiting longer than a year.

Figures for March also show over 70,000 patients were waiting for an appointment for inpatient or day case treatments.

Last month saw more than 22,000 people waiting for Gastro-Intestinal Endoscopies.

Fianna Fail spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly said: "It is a shocking figure and it represents an increase of 88,629 since Minister Harris took office in May 2016.

Of course it is 101,724 more people than Taoiseach Leo Varadkar envisaged when he declared back in January 2015 that ‘no patient will be on a hospital waiting list for more than 18 months’.

"It’s a target that was never met and one that we are further away than ever from meeting.

“All of these people have been waiting since September 2017 or earlier. It will be no comfort to any of the people on the list that the Minister’s goal for 2019 is ‘the stabilisation of the outpatient waiting list’.

"So far this year even that goal is failing. The list is actually up some 30,000 – an increase of more than 5 per cent so there is a long way to go before the Minister achieves his very unambitious target for outpatients in 2019

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