It is nine years since one of the most senior doctors in the UK at the time, Dr Laurence Buckman, launched a stinging attack on waiting lists in Northern Ireland.
In March 2012, Dr Buckman, the then chair of the British Medical Association's GP committee, listened with horror as his Northern Irish colleagues described the waiting list crisis and said his patients in England would never tolerate the waits endured by patients here.
At the time, there were 103,007 people waiting for a first outpatient appointment, with 59,378 of those people waiting longer than nine weeks and 5,903 waiting longer than 21 weeks.
Fast forward to the end of December last year and 323,174 people were waiting for a first outpatient appointment.
The number of patients waiting longer than nine weeks had rocketed to 275,651 and the 21-week target had been abandoned. Instead, trusts now record the number of people waiting longer than 52 weeks, with the figure standing at 167,806 at the end of last year.
Given that so many people are waiting so long for appointments, many of whom are elderly with complex co-morbidities, it stands to reason that some will die before they get an appointment.
What is devastating about this, however, is that some of the most vulnerable people in society are spending their final years in pain and discomfort.
People waiting for cataracts operations are unable to enjoy simple pleasures such as reading, watching television or even enjoy the colours of nature, while others waiting for the likes of hip or knee replacements are left bedbound and relying on strong medication to dull their pain.
But there is an even more sinister side to the waiting list crisis - something the figures released to the Belfast Telegraph do not reveal - and that is the number of people who died as a direct consequence of waiting so long for treatment.
The practice of triage and prioritisation can only do so much and there will be patients among the hundreds of thousands waiting for appointments whose life-threatening conditions will be missed.
Radical reform of the health service is long overdue but taking a more regionalised approach and possibly removing services from some locations is going to take strong political will - something that has been sorely lacking to date.