Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (246, 247)

Olivia Mitchell

Question:

249 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Health the current waiting time for an appointment in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32632/12]

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Olivia Mitchell

Question:

250 Deputy Mary Mitchell O’Connor asked the Minister for Health if a person (details supplied) who has been told by the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, that they will have to wait 26 months for an appointment reflects the average current waiting time in the hospital; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32633/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 249 and 250 together.

The issue of Out-Patient waiting lists was essentially an untended problem. The scale of the problem was unmeasured and consequently no special action was taken to deal with it. This Government intends to change that. I have instructed the Special Delivery Unit to give priority to devising methods for dealing with the issue of Out-Patient waiting lists.

Work has already commenced on the systematic and automatic collection of waiting time data, at an individual patient level in a standardised format from all hospitals providing an Out-Patient service. This will be the first time that such detailed data will be available at a national level from all hospitals. The collection and analysis of Out-Patient waiting time data will reveal how many patients are waiting by region, by hospital, by speciality and by Consultant. The Special Delivery Unit and NTPF are aiming to publish out-patient waiting time data in the near future.

The next step will be to then set a maximum waiting time target for a first Out-Patient appointment. Hospitals will be held responsible and accountable for ensuring that patients are seen in Out-Patients within this maximum waiting time. The Special Delivery Unit and the NTPF will assist hospitals in targeting their resources towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen, assessed and appropriately treated. In parallel with reducing the numbers of those waiting longest, the Special Delivery Unit will also commence work with the HSE Clinical Programmes to reform the structure, organisation and delivery of Out-Patient services to ensure that the right patient is seen by the right health professional at the right time.

The goal is to improve access by implementing an Out Patient Service Performance Improvement Programme that will underpin a radical transformation of how Out-Patient services are delivered in Ireland.

I have arranged for the questions to be forwarded to the Health Service Executive, who will respond directly to the Deputy in relation to the information requested on Out-Patient waiting times in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital, Dublin and the particular case referred to the Deputy's question.