The number of public patients waiting for inpatient or day case hospital treatment reduced last month by 785 to over 70,200.

There was an increase of over 800 in the number of people waiting to be seen at an outpatient department.

The outpatient waiting list was over 516,100 at the end of December.

The figures were issued this evening by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

The NTPF said it had exceeded its treatment targets for last year by 2,000 patients.

Overall national waiting lists remain at over 700,000 patients.

Minister for Health Simon Harris said he welcomed the fall in inpatient and day case lists.

Mr Harris said: "I am delighted to see the improvements to the Inpatient Daycase waiting list which has reduced to almost 70,000. 

"This was an ambitious target of the Inpatient Daycase Action Plan 2018 and which was achieved as a result of the immense efforts and the considerable collaboration of the HSE and the NTPF."