Rise in patients waiting for care

More people are on hospital waiting lists but there has been a sharp reduction in the number of people waiting a year or more.

There are 11,704 adults who have been waiting longer than six months — up 24% since the Government came to power a year ago.

A spokesman for Health Minister James Reilly said the increase in waiting times had been anticipated, with hospitals targeting those waiting the longest.

He said the total number of people waiting over a year as of May 17 had fallen to 425, a decrease of 84%, and would be further reduced in the coming weeks.

He said the number of adults waiting in July 2011 was 2,045 and had fallen to 474 by Apr 2012 — down 77%. He said there were 297 children waiting over 12 months for treatment last July. Last month there were 48.

Hospitals failing to treat patients on their waiting lists within one year face potential fines of €25,000 per case per month.

The Department of Health’s special delivery unit has set a new target that no patient should be waiting for longer than nine months.

The spokesman said hospitals were urged to treat the most urgent cases first and then those waiting the longest.

Tony O’Brien, delivery unity chief operating officer, said the increase in the number of people waiting a shorter period of time was anticipated. He said the aim was to reduce the 12-month maximum waiting time to nine later this year.


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