Over 323,000 patients were waiting to see a consultant for the first time at the end of December 2020, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Health.
That is over 18,000 more than in December 2019.
It comes as the Department of Health published the Quarterly Northern Ireland Inpatient, Day Case, Outpatient and Diagnostic Waiting Times Statistics.
The figures also revealed over 51% of those have been waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment.
The outpatient waiting times target for 2020/21 states that no patient should be waiting longer than 52 weeks, and that at least 50% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks.
Over 100,000 people are waiting to be admitted to hospital - a 16% increase on the previous year.
Video Report by Sara O'Kane: