Over 6.7 million patient treatments in 12 months

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For the most recently available 12 months of data, there were 3.4 million outpatient and 1.7 million in-patient/day case attendances, the Department of Health said in April.

” In addition to this planned (‘scheduled’) care, our hospital system also treated 1.6 million patients during this same period in emergency (‘unscheduled’) care, which represents a 10% increase on 2019 (pre-pandemic) levels and reflects the ongoing pressure on hospitals from flu surges and increased Emergency Department attendances.

“Such pressures have had the expected knock-on impact on scheduled care in many of our hospitals in the first months of this year, which has resulted in some waiting lists temporarily increasing. However, there are many examples of individual hospitals delivering significant improvements in waiting times, despite such challenges. For example, over the past year, Nenagh Hospital has reduced the number of patients waiting over 18 months for an OPD appointment by 79.7% in the last year, from 153 to 31, and Tallaght University Hospital has reduced the number of patients waiting over 12 months for an IPDC procedure by 38%, from 426 to 264”

The Department said the  hospital waiting list figures published in April  by the National Treatment Purchase Fund showed that 490,993 people on the Active Waiting Lists (inpatient / day case, GI Scopes and outpatients) were waiting longer than the Sláintecare maximum wait times, which was a 5% (24,287) decrease in comparison to last month. 

“The 2017 Houses of the Oireachtas Sláintecare report recommended maximum wait times of no more than 12 weeks for an inpatient / day case (IPDC) procedure or GI Scope and 10 weeks for a new outpatient (OPD) appointment. 

“As at end of March 2023: 

  • 51,842 people are currently exceeding the 12-week IPDC target which is a 4% (2,005) decrease compared to last month 
  • 10,410 exceeding the 12-week GI Scope target which is an 8% (905) decrease compared to last month 
  • 428,741 people are exceeding the 10-week OPD target which is a 5% (21,377) decrease compared to last month.”

The publication of March waiting list and activity figures by the NTPF and HSE follows the launch of the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan on  March 7, by the Minister for Health. The 2023 Plan continues the multi-annual approach to addressing waiting lists that commenced in Q4 2021 and details 30 actions focused on delivering capacity, reforming scheduled care, and enabling scheduled care reform. The 2023 Plan will fund the HSE and NTPF to reduce waiting lists by a further 10% this year as well as continuing to significantly reduce waiting times towards the Sláintecare recommended targets.