The number of people on waiting lists for their first appointment in Northern Ireland has fallen.
There has been a decrease of 3,091 (4%) over the year to the end of June this year for outpatient visits.
Most were treated within the target times but a minority had to wait longer than 13 weeks for a first outpatient appointment, Department of Health statistics said.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, in charge of healthcare policy at the department, said: "There has been a vast improvement, people are seen much more quickly and it is the minister's (Michael McGimpsey) and department's intention that people should have timely access to hospital appointments.
"It is something the patients and their families and the health care profession want."
A total of 74,000 people were waiting for a first outpatient appointment at the end of June this year.
There were 1,127 (1.5%) of patients waiting more than nine weeks for a first outpatient appointment, 446 more than 13 weeks.
Dr McCarthy added: "All of this improvement in waiting times and access has been made possible by the dedication and commitment of the healthcare and medical staff."
A total of 138,545 patients attended a first outpatient appointment during the June 2009 quarter.