Patients with ENT (ear, nose, throat) or head and neck problems are facing queues of up to 18 months for an outpatient’s appointment with a consultant at Waterford Regional Hospital, despite a HSE target of six months or less.

The latest progress report from the HSE also suggests that public patients are waiting an average of six months for appointment with consultants in other departments, as hospitals deal with an unplanned surge in numbers.

Figures to the end of April this year show that in-patient activity across the country is 2.8% higher than planned, hampering the HSE goal that no adult would wait more than six months for inpatient treatment and no child more than three months.

The detailed progress report, compiled under the HealthStat initiative, is the first of its kind to be presented to the HSE board in an exercise which is now to be repeated monthly. A HSE spokesperson said it would help in improving target times in future because there would be precise, up-to-date information about where problems lay. “A comprehensive and detailed evaluation is being undertaken presently by the Health Service Executive in respect of Waterford Regional Hospital and it is expected that it will significantly improve targets into the future”, the spokesperson added.