- Government significantly ‘behind target’ of 10% reduction in waiting lists by end of 2023; already facing a 65,000 shortfall by end of September;
- 893,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list; which is up almost 23,000 (3%) this year alone and by an additional 309,000 (+53%) people since Sláintecare;
- IHCA President Prof Robert Landers: “The 2023 Waiting List Action Plan is now unlikely to achieve the reduction targets set for the end of the year. The Government needs to urgently increase public hospital capacity to address the increasing number of patients on waiting lists.”
The Health Service will need to provide care to a staggering 82,200 additional people in the next three months if it’s to meet the Government’s waiting list reduction target for year end.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) said today (Friday, 15 September 2023) this would require combined waiting lists for outpatient appointments and inpatient and day case treatments to be reduced by around 27,400 each month between now and the end of December.
It follows the release today of the latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures which confirm that 893,000 people were on some form of hospital waiting list at the end of September.1
The Government’s €443 million Action Plan released in March set a target to reduce waiting lists for appointments and hospital treatment by 10% (-69,000) by the end of the year, compared with the number waiting at the start of 2023.
However, three-quarters into 2023 and instead of the targeted reduction of around 51,700 people, the latest NTPF figures confirm that 13,250 additional people have in fact been added to these three main waiting lists – a shortfall of almost 65,000.
An additional concern for the Government is that it cannot rely, as it did last year, on the NTPF’s ‘validation’ programme to reduce waiting lists, as this is likely to fall short of the expected 146,100 patients that the plan estimated would be removed from lists without treatment during 2023.2
Commenting on today’s waiting lists, IHCA President Professor Rob Landers, said:
“Clearly more patients are being added to the waiting lists than are being taken off, partly because demand for care is going up and up. This is the fundamental challenge together with insufficient hospital capacity.
“The health service management has not predicted accurately the backlog of care that has built up over the past four years. A significantly higher number of patients are presenting to our hospitals, particular elderly patients. This has meant more patients suffering the unacceptable consequences of waiting too long for care.
“Realistic long-term planning is required that ensures the Consultant staffing and other public hospital resources are put in place to deliver the additional hospital capacity needed to bring these waiting lists down.
“Regrettably this week’s Health Budget for 2024 does not contain the required funding to build and open the 1,500 rapid build additional hospital beds in 2023 and 2024 announced by the Minister for Health earlier this year, or the four elective hospitals included in the Sláintecare Plan in 2017. In contrast, the Budget includes funding for 162 new hospital beds in 2024 which is around 10% of what the Minister promised.
“The €500m pledged for various measure to help tackle waiting lists next year is welcome but will not guarantee success without the promised extra hospital capacity when a €443m Action Plan in 2023 has failed to deliver.”
- Latest NTFP data as at end September 2023: https://www.ntpf.ie/home/nwld.htm
34,375 patients were removed due to NTPF validation exercises in the first four months of 2023, which would equate to around 103,000 patients removed in a full year; Dáil PQ response from Minister Stephen Donnelly to Deputy Jim O’Callaghan, 23 May 2023: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2023-05-23/842/