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Outpatient lists continue to rise
[Posted: Wed 08/08/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Nearly 17,000 people have been waiting over four years for a public hospital outpatient appointment, according to latest statistics from the HSE.
Many of these patients have heart, kidney, orthopaedic and neurology problems, the figures show.
An outpatient waiting list is often a 'waiting list to get on a waiting list'. Once a patient is seen in outpatients, they are often put on a separate treatment waiting list.
Just over 117,000 people, one third of those on these lists, are currently waiting over a year for hospital outpatients appointments, according to the statistics.
A total of 361,795 people are currently on outpatient lists, and one third of these - 117,275, have been waiting over a year for an appointment in a hospital consultant clinic, the figures for the end of June show.
Of these, 16,903 have been waiting four years and over for an appointment.
According to the HSE figures, total numbers on outpatient lists increased by just over 19,000 between May and June.
The increase is partly due to the fact that the HSE is currently verifying outpatient lists on a monthly basis and in previous months, some hospitals had submitted incomplete lists.
For example, Waterford Regional Hospital reported that it had 710 patients waiting over four years for an outpatient appointment at the end of May, but this had increased to 4,122 at the end of June.
Also, Portiuncula Hospital in Co Galway submitted no outpatient wait figures to the HSE in May, but did so in June.
Galway University and Waterford Regional hospitals currently have the highest number of patients waiting over four years for an outpatient appointment.
A specialty-by specialty breakdown for the end of June shows that some patients requiring a consultation for heart, kidney,neurology and orthopaedic problems are waiting over four years to see a consultant.
A total of 6,481 patients are currently waiting four years or more to see an orthopaedic surgeon in outpatients, while 954 patients are waiting four years or more to see a neurologistfor brain-related problems.
A total of 137 patients have been waiting over four years to see a cardiologist, 432 have been waiting for that period to see a urologist and 108 are waiting over four years to see a nephrologist (kidney specialist).
The figures also show that three patients have been waiting over four years to see a cancer specialist.
Health Minister James Reilly's Special Delivery Unit (SDU) has pledged to take action to reduce outpatient waiting lists.
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