The numbers of patients on waiting lists must be considered in the context of overall demand. Every year there are 3.2m outpatient attendances at our hospitals. 100,000 patients have elective inpatient procedures and 800,000 have planned day case procedures.
In 2015 my predecessor introduced a maximum waiting time of 15 months to be attained by the end of December 2015, focussing on patients waiting longest. Under the 2015 Waiting List Initiative, almost 36,000 additional outpatient appointments were provided, to achieve 93% compliance with the 15 month maximum waiting time.
Whilst acknowledging that the numbers waiting over 12 months increased between December 2015 and April 2016, it is important to note that greater demand for emergency care arises in the peak winter period. This, in turn, impacts the number of outpatient appointments available. Despite this challenge, 94% of patients currently wait less than 15 months, with over 60% of patients waiting less than 6 months for their required care. We also continue to see reductions in outpatient waiting times year on year.
The HSE has established a Scheduled Care Governance Group to coordinate initiatives to reduce waiting list numbers, focussing on chronological scheduling and administrative and clinical validation procedures to ensure that patients are available for treatment.
In addition, my Department is currently engaging with the NTPF and the HSE in planning a dedicated 2016 waiting list initiative. Finally, my Department is engaging with the NTPF and the HSE regarding the Programme for Partnership Government commitment to provide €15m to the NTPF in 2017 to address waiting lists.