More than 490,000 patients waiting to see consultants

There were 494,530 patients last month waiting to be seen by a consultant at out- patient clinics, a reduction of just 788 on the previous month, new figures show.

More than 490,000 patients waiting to see consultants

The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) also show 80,894 patients were waiting for a hospital operation or procedure last month, a decrease of 2,143 compared to September.

Health Minister Simon Harris said it was the third month in a row that there had been a fall in the number of people waiting for a hospital operation or procedure.

For a second successive month, there was also a decrease in the total number of patients waiting for an outpatient appointment.

He said the figures show the priority had been placed on reducing the number of long-waiting patients.

There had been a 20% reduction in the number of patients waiting over 15 months for inpatient or day case procedures.

Mr Harris said there was an extra €10m available for the remainder of the year for the NTPF to fund patient treatment across a range of key specialities and procedures.

The HSE said hospitals would be contacting all patients waiting over six months in the coming weeks to see if they require their appointment.

“The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that we fully optimise our existing resources and improve overall access times for patients,” the HSE said.

It also noted almost all patients were receiving their urgent colonoscopy procedure within the four-week waiting time target and 52% of patients were receiving a routine colonoscopy within the 13-week target.

Meanwhile, the HSE’s trolley count shows 128 of the 292 admitted patients on trolleys yesterday were waiting more than nine hours for a bed.

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