Figures show big rise in long waiters
The number of adults waiting over 12 months for planned hospital procedures more than doubled between the end of December last and the end of January, despite Health Minister James Reilly's plan to eliminate 12 month- plus waiting lists.
Latest HSE figures show there were 865 adult patients waiting over 12 months for operations at the end of January, compared to only 364 at the end of December.
The Minister's Special Delivery Unit (SDU) is currently attempting to reduce waiting lists and ED trolley waits.
However, the latest figures show the number of patients waiting over 12 months for treatment is now increasing again and is approaching the level it was last summer, when the SDU began its waiting list initiative.
Last year, the Minister ordered hospitals to eliminate their 12 months - plus waiting lists by the end of December. One hospital, Galway University/Merlin Park, still had patients waiting over 12 months at the end of the year, however.
The new figures show that the numbers waiting longer than a year for treatment has since grown and more hospitals, including Beaumont, the Mater and Cork University Hospital, had 12-month plus waiters at the end of January, with the total numbers waiting over 12 months totalling 865.
The Minister has ordered hospitals to reduce to zero the number of patients waiting over 12 months for operations.
He has warned hospitals that if they still have these long waiters on their lists next week, or have not made reasonable efforts to treat these patients, they will be fined.
The total number of adults and children on waiting lists dropped from 59,832 to 59,387 between December and January, the HSE figures show.
According to the HSE, at the end of January, there were 4,678 adults waiting more than nine months for a planned hospital procedure, representing 8.5% of the adult waiting list for elective operations.
Hospitals have been ordered to have no patients waiting more than nine months for treatment by the end of the year.
However, the latest figures show that some hospitals are still having difficulty removing 12-month plus waiters from their lists. The two Galway hospitals at the end of January had 546 patients waiting over 12 months for treatment, while the Mater in Dublin had 85 patients in this category and Beaumont had 73.
The HSE figures also show that in January, no hospital in the country reached the set targets of having 95% of all emergency department (ED) attendees being either discharged or admitted within six hours, or having 100% of patients who needed admission through ED admitted within nine hours of registration.
Nationally, only 65% of patients were either discharged or admitted through EDs within six hours and 59% of patients were admitted through EDs within nine hours of registration.
The Mater in January was only able to admit 16% of ED patients who needed admission within the nine-hour target, according to the HSE.
[Posted: Sat 31/03/2012]