Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly TD says the latest outpatient waiting list figures show that the targets set by Taoiseach Varadkar three years ago are now further away than ever.

Deputy Donnelly said, “The 511,904 on the outpatient waiting list is of course another new record. However the waiting times being endured within that list are truly shocking. 79,647 people who need to see a specialist have been waiting over 18 months – another all-time high. This is despite the target set by Leo Varadkar that by the end of June 2015 no-one would wait more than 18 months.

“More people are now waiting 18 months plus on the outpatient waiting list than are actually waiting on the inpatient / day case list for scheduled treatment. Furthermore the numbers waiting 18 months plus on the inpatient / day case list increased again last June to 5,929. This happened despite the decrease in the overall total on the list.

“Minister Harris has pledged that the overall number of patients waiting for hospital operations and procedures is to fall to under 70,000 by year end. Well if this is to be achieved we need see an average monthly decrease of 1,229 a month for the remainder of the year. The average monthly decrease to date this year is 574.

“The rapid increase in waiting lists that took off during Leo Varadkar’s time in the Department of Health is truly extraordinary. In May 2014 there were 343,412 on the outpatient waiting list so we have seen an increase of over 168,000 since then. It’s truly shocking that over half a million people are now stuck on hospital waiting lists.

“We have also seen a jump of almost 29,000 for scheduled treatment. Things have gotten so bad that it’s beginning to make James Reilly’s tenure look like a golden age.”