Overall national hospital waiting lists increased slightly last month by 5,625 patients.

It means there were 697,664 patients on various lists in March. The figures are from the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

The number of patients on the ‘Active’ list - those waiting for a date for in-patient, or day case treatment, increased by 1,790 to 98,759.

Yesterday, the Government announced a plan to cut the numbers waiting on this list by 20,000 by the end of the year.

The number of patients waiting to be seen at an out-patient clinic also rose slightly last month by 3,311 to 504,111.

However there was an improvement in the number waiting for in-patient, or day case treatment - those who have a date set - with this figure down to 27,356.

A further 67,400 patients have had treatment but are on another list, as they will need further treatment at a future date.