Record 862,720 people on hospital treatment waiting lists

Record 862,720 people on hospital treatment waiting lists

A record 20,813 patients are waiting over a year for hospital inpatient/day care - an increase of 11,103 year on year. File Picture: Neil Hall/PA Wire

A record 862,720 people are now on some form of hospital treatment waiting list, according to new figures from the National Purchase Treatment Fund (NTPF). 

The NTPF report shows that the number of patients waiting over a year or longer for hospital treatment is now double what it was before the Covid-19 pandemic and 200 times higher than it was in 2014.

A record 20,813 patients are waiting over a year for hospital inpatient/day care - an increase of 11,103 year on year.

In 2014, just 183 patients had to wait more than one year - a total 113 times smaller than this year’s figure.

The number of patients waiting over 15 months for inpatient/day case treatment was 56 in 2014. At present, that figure is 14,334.

98,304 more people are waiting longer than a year for an outpatient appointment.

A total of 261,956 more people are waiting over a year for a consultant outpatient appointment - 28 times more than were waiting in 2014.

Commenting on the figures, Irish Hospital Consultant Association (IHCA) President, Professor Alan Irvine pleaded with the Government to urgently put in place further capacity and resources to help hospitals catch up on essential care postponed as a result of Covid-19.

IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine said that while the current surge was unavoidable, the waiting lists would likely deteriorate further in coming months and years unless concrete plans were put in place to clear the massive backlog. File Picture: Chaney/Collins
IHCA President Professor Alan Irvine said that while the current surge was unavoidable, the waiting lists would likely deteriorate further in coming months and years unless concrete plans were put in place to clear the massive backlog. File Picture: Chaney/Collins

He said: "Yet again, these waiting time figures drive home the devastating impact not just of Covid-19 on the provision of care to patients, but of the persistent underinvestment in hospital infrastructure, bed capacity and other facilities in the past decade and the failure to address the Consultant recruitment and retention crisis.

Prof Irvine said that while the current surge was unavoidable, the waiting lists would likely deteriorate further in coming months and years unless concrete plans were put in place to clear the massive backlog. 

“Planning is now required to ensure that services are resourced appropriately to cater for the increased demand. But with over 700 permanent Consultant posts vacant our acute hospitals are very poorly positioned to provide timely care to patients."

Prof Irvine said Government investment needed to be "channelled effectively and speedily" into the recruitment of additional Consultants with supporting teams and infrastructure. 

If this did not happen, he said, public hospitals would continue to see record waiting lists and struggle to address the Covid treatment backlog.

“Government can no longer ignore the fundamental requirement that essential treatment is delivered by consultants and that no amount of investment in hospital services will reduce waiting lists unless we recruit and retain the necessary number of hospital consultants to deliver timely care. 

“The continued failure of the Government since 2012 to address the hospital consultant recruitment and retention crisis and other capacity deficits is the root causes of the record 862,000 people now on some form of NTPF waiting list," he said. 

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