The number of people waiting on outpatient appointments in public hospitals has risen to more than 523,000, which Fianna Fáil claim is the highest number ever recorded.

The figures from the National Treatment Purchase Fund show the numbers waiting on appointments rose by 7,000 between December and January.

More than 208,000 people are waiting more than nine months to be seen - up 12,000 on the previous month.

More than 46,000 children are waiting on appointments.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly said almost 11% of the population is waiting for an outpatient consultation and a huge number of them are waiting a very significant period for one.

"It is four years since Leo Varadkar, as Health Minister, set a target that nobody would wait more than 18 months and we are further away than ever from reaching that target".