Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Questions (682)

Finian McGrath


682. Deputy Finian McGrath asked the Minister for Health if he will support the need for access to neuro-rehabilitation services in view of the fact that there are unacceptably long waiting lists to see a neurologist; and if he will end cuts to this vital support service. [8208/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

Current neuro-rehabilitation services available include acute hospital services; the National Rehabilitation Hospital; multi-disciplinary community services; long-term assisted living supports; and rehabilitative training services. These services are provided directly by the Health Service Executive (HSE) and several non-statutory organisations.

Improving access to outpatient services, including neurology services, is a key priority for the Government. Building on work already undertaken by the HSE, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has now taken over the reporting of outpatient waiting time data. For the first time, clear and comprehensive data is available on www.ptr.ie. The collation and analysis of outpatient waiting time data in a standardised format will reveal the distribution of those waiting longest across all hospitals. In the first instance, this will allow the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) and NTPF to target their resources towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen and assessed. A maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment by 30th November 2013.

In parallel with reducing the numbers of longest waiters, the SDU will also work with the HSE Clinical Programmes to reform the structure, organisation and delivery of outpatient services to ensure that the right patient is seen and assessed by the right health professional at the right time.

I have asked the HSE to reply directly to the Deputy regarding his specific query on waiting times for a Neurologist.