New figures show there has been a small reduction in hospital waiting lists.

Overall waiting lists stood at 768,338 patients at the end of September, down 1,124 patients compared with the previous month.

The figures released by the National Treatment Purchase Fund show there are over 568,700 people waiting to be seen at an outpatient clinic, a small reduction in the August total.

Over 90,100 people are waiting for a date for their inpatient, or day case treatment.

Fianna Fáil spokesperson on Health Stephen Donnelly said it was "really disappointing" to see such "little progress" on the inpatient list.

He said that: "At this rate, it would take 14 years to clear inpatient waiting lists alone. As we heard from the hospital consultants earlier this week, many of these people are suffering while they wait, and are getting sicker. And on top of this, the State ends up paying more in the end for the more complex care required."

He said ending new entrant pay inequality, lifting the hiring ban on nurses and midwives, opening up more step-down facilities and increasing home care packages would form part of the solution to the waiting list issue.

Dr Donal O'Hanlon, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association said: "After more three years in the office, the Government has presided over an unacceptable increase of 153,000 additional patients on the outpatient waiting list. This amounts to a 37% increase since the current Government took office in May 2016.

The IHCA has called on the Minister to urgently address the consultant recruitment and retention crisis in order to tackle the hospital waiting lists problem.

Mr O'Hanlon said: "While the outpatient waiting list fell very slightly last month, the decline of just 729 patients in today's NTPF data from the record high seen in August is nothing to be proud of and is little comfort to the 568,769 people who were awaiting a hospital outpatient appointment at the end of September.