Written Answers. - By-Pass Heart Surgery.

Mary O'Rourke

Question:

134 Mrs. O'Rourke asked the Minister for Health when a person (details supplied) from County Sligo will be called for by-pass heart surgery in view of the fact that he has been on the waiting list for Saint James's Hospital for some years. [1809/96]

Limerick East): I understand the person in question was placed on the Mater Hospital waiting list on 29 March 1995. The scheduling of surgery is a matter for the clinical judgement of the consultant concerned and is based solely on the patient's condition and not on the length of time on the waiting list. Emergency cases are given priority. The patient's practitioner should, accordingly, keep the consultant informed on a regular basis of the patient's condition.

I am very concerned about the number of people on the waiting list for cardiac surgery and I am anxious to reduce the waiting period for those people at present on the list. I have asked my Department to formulate proposals for the provision of additional cardiac surgery activity in the public hospital system. I am fully committed to the provision of additional capacity including the appointment of additional cardiac surgeons on a permanent basis within the public system over the next two to three years. However, because of the need to ensure that future developments are well planned and to allow sufficient time to put in place the type of permanent, expensive infrastructure required for cardiac surgery it will take some time before this additional capacity comes on stream. I have, therefore, asked my Department to see whether any health care organisation can provide cardiac surgery at prices which are reasonable and affordable on a once-off basis. Negotiations are being finalised on the purchase of additional once-off procedures in 1996.
The major objective is to increase the permanent capacity for cardiac surgery in the public hospital sector and in the meantime to provide additional procedures quickly to ease the problems of those waiting cardiac operations. I am hopeful that the short-term approach together with the long-term planning initiative will ensure that waiting times for cardiac surgery are reduced significantly and I look forward to co-operation from everybody involved to bring this about as quickly as possible.