Press Release

Minister Martin announces significant reductions in the number of patients waiting longest for hospital treatment based on hospital waiting list figures for the third quarter of 2002

Figures released today (3rd December, 2002) by the Minister for Health and Children show that hospital waiting lists stood at 22,718 at the end of September, 2002. This figure represents an overall decrease of 3,627 or 14% in waiting list numbers relative to the comparable figure for September 2001. It also represents a decrease of 2,132 or 9% on the comparable number for June 2002. These figures have been compiled in line with the same classification and recording procedures of previously published waiting lists, which excluded certain day case waiting lists pending clarification of the basis on which hospitals were reporting such data.

The Department of Health and Children has undertaken the task of separating out data from all public hospitals on in-patient and day case waiting lists.

</>In-patient waiting list figures stood at 19,236 at the end of September, 2002. This figure represents the number of patients waiting for admission to hospital for treatment involving at least one overnight stay in hospital. It shows a decrease of 2,338 or 11 % in the in-patient only waiting list between June and September 2002. The total number of children waiting for more than 6 months for in-patient treatment has fallen from 1,576 to 1,201 between June and September 2002 representing a fall of 375 or 24%. The total number of adults waiting for more than 12 months for in-patient treatment in the nine target surgical specialties covered by the Waiting List Initiative has fallen from 7,407 to 6,273 between June and September 2002 representing a fall of 1,134 or 15%.

“I am very pleased that the published figures show reductions in the number of adults waiting for more than 12 months and children waiting for more than 6 months for treatment. It is now clear that our prioritisation of the long-waiters is beginning to yield results.” the Minister said.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has launched a new locall number 1890 720 820 for patients on hospital waiting lists who may have queries in relation to their eligibility for treatment. To date approximately 1,600 people have received treatment. The Minister is appealing to patients who have waited more than 12 months for admission to hospital for treatment to contact their General Practitioner or hospital Consultant in relation to having their operation arranged by the NTPF.

For the first time the Department is also publishing today the first set of day case waiting lists. As at 30th September, 2002 there were 9,938 people waiting for admission to hospital as a day case to undergo a procedure, treatment or diagnostic test and who would be discharged from hospital on the same day. The day case waiting lists for some hospitals include procedures and treatments which would not have been included in previously reported data. Day case waiting lists includes a wide variety of treatments and procedures in medical and surgical specialties. However, caution must be exercised in relation to the day case waiting lists as there are some anomalies and definitional issues surrounding day case work which the Department is continuing to address with health agencies to allow consistent and comparative analysis across the hospital system. Some hospitals are still not in a position to separate their in-patient and day case waiting lists.

In order to achieve greater consistency in the reporting of waiting lists, the Department expects to issue a revised set of guidelines for hospitals on the collection and reporting of hospital waiting lists.