According to new figures released today, hospital waiting lists have now surpassed 900,000 for the first time.
As of the end of July, there were 908,519 people awaiting an appointment to be treated or assessed in public hospitals.
The figures, which were released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), show that the number of people who are awaiting treatment has reached a record high.
According to the figures, there are 652,498 patients who are awaiting an outpatient appointment with a consultant, which is up 51,136 from the same time last year.
Over 268,500 people are currently waiting over a year to be assessed by a consultant, which is up 15% since July last year and a seven-fold increase in the last seven years.
A total of 20,513 patients are waiting over one year to receive hospital inpatient care, which is an increase of 24% from the last year, as well as an 88-fold increase since 2012.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) fears that the waiting lists are “inexorably climbing” to the one million mark.
IHCA Vice President Professor Rob Landers stated, “Today’s statistics are a reminder that despite the success of the vaccine roll-out, the hard work and dedication of front-line doctors and their colleagues, together with the resilience of the public, our public hospitals now face a challenge of almost equal magnitude to Covid,”.
The association added that the root cause of the waiting lists is the low number of consultants and the difficulty involved in filling permanent consultant posts.