Eleven per cent cut in numbers waiting longer than 10/12 weeks for treatment


The core target of achieving a 10% reduction in the number of patients waiting longer than the agreed Sláintecare times (10/12 weeks) was exceeded in 2023, with an 11% reduction, equating to 57,000 patients, according to Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly.

The Minister said 2023 saw a reduction of almost one third (32%) on those waiting longer than 12 months. This equates to 54,000 patients. Since the Covid Peak those waiting longer than 12 months had reduced by 60%.

“The Department of Health said 2023 was the second year in a row that waiting lists fell. “Over 177,000 more patients were removed from acute hospital waiting lists last year compared with 2022. The target of removing approximately 1.66 million patients from waiting lists in 2023 was exceeded by 5%, with around 1.74 million patients removed.

“The average Outpatient waiting time reduced from 9.7 months to 7.5 months. This represents a 23% reduction in 2023.”

Minister Donnelly said “Significant progress was made during 2023 in reducing the length of time people are waiting for care. We had an 11% reduction in the numbers waiting longer than 10/12 weeks meaning that 57,000 less people are waiting longer than the agreed Sláintecare targets than at the end of 2022. At the end of December 2023, almost 86% of patients were waiting less than the 2023 National Service Plan maximum wait time targets, which represents an improvement of 6.3% since the end of 2022. Without the intervention of the 2023 WLAP, it is estimated that waiting lists would have increased by 54% to almost 1.1 million people.

“While this Government recognises that acute hospital scheduled care waiting lists are far too long, and that many patients are waiting an unacceptably long time for care, it is important to acknowledge that significant progress has been made this year, particularly since we moved to a year-round approach to Urgent and Emergency Care in the latter half of last year. A critical metric to measuring progress towards achieving this goal is not the total number of people waiting, but rather the total number of people waiting longer than the Sláintecare times.

“I would like to thank all our healthcare staff who have worked tirelessly to reduce our waiting lists. It is thanks to the huge efforts of all the frontline staff and management that 2023 was the second year in a row that national hospital waiting lists fell. With the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan, my Department, the HSE and the NTPF took the next steps in the multi-annual approach towards achieving our vision of a world-class public healthcare system. This work will continue under the 2024 WLAP where everyone has timely and transparent access to high-quality scheduled care, where and when they need it, in line with Sláintecare reforms.”