Press Release

Significant reductions in the number of patients waiting longest for hospital in-patient treatment

The Department of Health and Children released figures today (5th August, 2003) on hospital waiting lists and waiting times. These figures show that the overall number of patients on hospital waiting lists stood at 28,719 at the end of March 2003. This figure includes both in-patient waiting lists and day case waiting lists

In-patient Waiting Times for Adults

There has been a significant reduction in the number of adults waiting longest for in-patient treatment. The total number of adults waiting more than 12 months for in-patient treatment in the nine target surgical specialties has fallen by approximately 8% from 5,209 to 4,782 in the period December 2002 to March 2003. The specialty of Cardiac Surgery showed a reduction of 20% in the numbers waiting more than 12 months in the period December 2002 to March 2003 while the specialty of Opthalmology also showed a decrease of 20% in the same three month period.

Some hospitals, such as Limerick Regional Hospital, the Regional Orthopaedic Hospital (Croom), Portlaoise General Hospital, Wexford General Hospital and Mayo General Hospital, have reached the target, as set out in the Health Strategy, to have no adult waiting longer than 12 months for treatment.

In-Patient Waiting Times for Children

The total number of children waiting for more than 6 months for in-patient treatment in the nine target specialties has fallen by over 35% (from 1,081 to 697) between December 2002 and March 2003. The number of children waiting for orthopaedic and plastic surgery procedures for more than 6 months has shown a decrease of 67% and 50% respectively in the period December 2002 to March 2003.

In-Patient Waiting Lists

Hospital in-patient waiting list figures stood at 17,186 at the end of March 2003. This figure shows a decrease of 1,204 (approximately 7%) in the in-patient waiting list between December 2002 and March 2003.

Day Case Waiting Lists

Hospital day case waiting list figures stood at 11,533 at the end of March 2003, representing an increase of 8% from December 2002 to March 2003.

National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF)

To date more than 5,500 patients have received treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund. The results of the NTPF´s recent Patient Satisfaction Survey show a very high level of patient satisfaction with the scheme. The Fund has the capacity each month to arrange treatment for 500 patients in hospitals throughout Ireland and Northern Ireland and also 200 patients in four private hospitals in England. To date, the capacity in England has not been fully utilised.

“I am pleased with the continuing reduction in the number of patients waiting longest for in-patient treatment, in particular, due to the work of the Treatment Purchase Fund. I would urge patients and their GPs to avail of the Fund in order to use capacity to its fullest.” The Minister said.

Department´s web site

A complete breakdown of the in-patient waiting list and the day case waiting list by hospital and specialty as at 31st March 2003 is being made available on the Department´s web site.

Final allocation of 2003 waiting list initiative funding

The Minister for Health and Children has also announced today that the final allocation of waiting list funding for 2003 is being distributed to health agencies.

The total amount of waiting list funding available for distribution to health agencies in 2003 is €43.806 million. A total of €35 million has already been distributed to health agencies so far in 2003. The remaining €8.806 million is now being distributed to health agencies. The breakdown is as follows:

Health Agency
ERHA 5,000,000
Midland Health Board 400,000
Mid-Western Health Board 581,000
North Eastern Health Board 375,000
North Western Health Board 400,000
South Eastern Health Board 500,000
Southern Health Board 1,150,000
Western Health Board 400,000
Total 8,806,000

“The distribution of the €8.806m to health agencies is being particularly targeted towards hospitals who have the capacity to undertake additional procedures. I will continue to monitor the performance of health agencies in achieving reductions in their waiting lists and reducing waiting times for patients” the Minister said.