Over 997,000 patients were waiting for various types of health service appointments during the first half of this year, new figures have shown.
The figures, which were obtained by Fianna Fail deputy leader, Dara Calleary, revealed that 997,258 people were on waiting lists in 22 different categories of the health system, including both hospital and non-hospital treatments.
Waiting list figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) showed that the number of people waiting for public hospital appointments at the end of June was more than 717,000.
However, Mr Calleary pointed out that these figures do not include those waiting for diagnostic scans, such as MRIs and CT scans. Figures from April show there to be around 135,000 people waiting for such scans.
When combined with other waiting lists for areas such as speech and language therapy and home support services, the figure is just short of one million.
Mr Calleary described the figures as a 'national scandal'.
"Never before have we seen a situation whereby people have been failed so badly by a government," he commented.
Responding to the figures, the HSE said that the health service faced ‘significant pressures and challenges', but insisted improvements were being made.
This year, it will carry out 1.4 million planned inpatient and day case procedures and it said that additional funding provided via the NTPF ‘will ensure additional treatment and procedures are made available, which will ultimately help to improve wait times for patients'.
The HSE also highlighted that in 2017, 479,000 outpatients did not attend their outpatient appointments.
It said that hospitals have been contacting all patients waiting over six months to see if they still require their appointment, in order to ‘improve the overall use of resources'. It also urged anyone who cannot make their scheduled appointment to let their hospital know as soon as possible.
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