The number of people on public hospital waiting lists is 27,857.

While the number of people on hospital waiting lists now stands at almost 28,000, this represents a fall of almost 2,000 in the last quarter and almost 9,000 in the last year.

Waiting list figures are seen as an indicator of the government's success in managing the health service.

While the number is welcome, the fall is slight and the rate of reduction is slow despite investing tens of millions of pounds annually in an effort to reduce the waiting lists.

Minsters of Health and Children, Michéal Martin TD, welcomed the reduction and hopes to see an improvement on this further through the recruitment of more nurses.

What the waiting lists do not show are the numbers of people leaving the list to go private or dying while waiting for operations.

Despite the fall in numbers, the Labour Party says that waiting times for patients have gotten worse. Liz McManus says there is an urgent need for a change in government policy to ensure that patients are cared for and have treatment when needed. She describes the situation as

A damning indictment of a government record.

An RTÉ News report broadcast on 9 March 2001. The reporter is Aileen O’Meara.