Hospital Consultants question claim that Government Waiting List Action Plan is ‘ahead of target’

By dara
Friday, 15th September 2023
  • Still from CCW animated video896,700 people on some form of NTPF waiting list; which is up more than 26,600 (3%) this year alone and by an additional 313,000 (+54%) people since Sláintecare;
  • Government significantly ‘behind target’ of 10% reduction in waiting lists by end of 2023; already facing a 63,700 shortfall;
  • This is despite the NTPF removing 49,500 patients from hospital waiting lists in the first six months of the year without any treatment, as part of ‘validation’ scheme.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) has today (Friday, 15 September 2023) questioned claims by the Department of Health that the Government’s Waiting List Action Plan is running ‘ahead of target’.

It follows the release today of the latest National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures which confirm that 896,700 people were on some form of hospital waiting list at the end of August.1

The €443 million Action Plan set a target to reduce waiting lists for outpatient appointments and inpatient and day case treatment by 10% (-69,000) by the end of the year, compared with the number waiting at the start of 2023. 

However, eight months into 2023 and instead of an expected reduction of around 45,500 people, the latest NTPF figures confirm that almost 18,200 additional people have in fact been added to these three main waiting lists – a 63,700 shortfall.

While the number of patients treated or removed from the waiting lists may be above target, additions to waiting lists in the same period have been much higher than projected. This means there has been no net reduction so far this year, with waiting lists increasing by around 3% since January. 

Despite separate data confirming 49,500 patients were removed from hospital waiting lists without any treatment in the first six months of 2023 through NTPF ‘validation’, the Government is still significantly behind the 10% reduction target contained in its Action Plan.2

The Association, which holds its Annual Conference in Dublin later this month, welcomed the reductions achieved since this time last year, but put into context that August 2022 had seen the highest ever number of people on NTPF waiting lists – a total of 910,073. 

Commenting on today’s waiting lists, IHCA President Professor Robert Landers, said:
“The stark reality is that there are over 896,000 people on some form of NTPF waiting list, which is up more than 26,600 (3%) this year alone. When the additional 250,000 waiting for essential hospital diagnostic scans are included, the number of people awaiting hospital care is over 1.1 million – or one-fifth of the population.
“While it is important to know how many people are waiting longer than the Sláintecare maximum wait times, and we welcome any small gains in these wait times, it is equally important to acknowledge that waiting lists have significantly deteriorated rather than improved since the Sláintecare report’s publication in May 2017. In fact, the number of people on NTPF waiting list has increased by over 313,000 (+54%) since Sláintecare.

“This is why the IHCA is urging the Government to commit the estimated €4 billion in capital funding in October’s Budget to build and open essential additional hospital beds, theatres, diagnostics and other facilities already announced by the Minister for Health in order to cut waiting lists. 

“The Government also needs to address the very obvious shortages of Consultants in our public hospitals, given that a record 933 permanent Consultant posts are vacant or filled on a temporary basis, and the fact that Ireland continues to have the lowest number of medical specialists on a population basis in Europe.” 


1. Latest NTFP data as at end August 2023: 
2. PQ response from Minister Stephen Donnelly to Deputy David Cullinane, 14th July 2023: 

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