Press Release

95% reduction in outpatients waiting over 12 months

Health Minister welcomes reduction in waiting lists

The Minister of Health Dr. James Reilly, TD has today (28 January 2014) welcomed new figures which show a 95% reduction in the number of people waiting over 12 months for an outpatient appointment.

The figures for the end of 2013 show the number of people waiting over 12 months for an outpatient appointment reducing to 4,626 in December, compared to 103,433 in March 2013. In addition, in overall terms there has been a reduction of 25% in the total number of patients waiting for an outpatient appointment, with over 100,000 additional outpatient appointments provided in 2013 versus 2012 (a 4% increase). These significant reductions in those waiting are a welcome development resulting from an initiative established by the Minister to – for the first time – properly establish the scale of the outpatient waiting list and to methodically reduce that number.

Commenting on the development, Minister Reilly said “The reduction by 95% in the numbers on the list over 12 months represents real progress in our health system. I congratulate all those involved, the Special Delivery Unit, the National Treatment Purchase Fund and in particular those on the front lines in our hospitals around the country for working so hard to ensure that the longest waiters have been so thoroughly prioritised”.

Minister Reilly has consistently focused on a policy of targeting hospital capacity to ensure that those patients waiting the longest are prioritised – once the most urgent are treated. As of 31 December 2013:


  99.99% of adult patients on the elective waiting list are waiting less than 8 months, with just 4 patients exceeding the target: this is a very positive achievement, particularly in light of the revision of targets from 9 months in 2012 to 8 months in 2013;

  95% of children waiting for inpatient or day-case surgery are waiting under 20 weeks;

  99% of patients waiting for routine endoscopy procedures are waiting less than 13 weeks.

These are significant indications of the progress that is being achieved through the work of the Special Delivery Unit, the National Treatment Purchase Fund and the acute hospitals.

The Minister has acknowledged that the targets have not been fully achieved in 2013, stating “A huge amount of work remains to be done on this issue but I congratulate all those involved and I know plans have been made by the SDU working with the HSE to move from the high 90s to 100% achievement against all the targets set. I have emphasised continually that priority must be given to taking care of those patients waiting the longest and hospitals have proven, and continue to prove, that they can do this, even in an environment of constrained resources. The dedication and commitment of staff in achieving these targets, whilst ensuring that those in greatest clinical need are prioritised, deserves to be acknowledged.”