Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Questions (619)

Róisín Shortall


619. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health if he will report on the number of consultant neurologists currently employed in the health service; the current out-patient waiting times in each case; the way in which this ratio of neurologists to population compares with European norms; and his plans, if any, to address the current long waiting times where over 5,000 people are waiting more than a year to see a neurologist. [12666/13]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Improving access to outpatient services is a key priority for the Government. Building on work already undertaken by the HSE, the National Treatment Purchase Fund has now taken over the reporting of outpatient waiting time data.

For the first time, clear and comprehensive data is available on www.ntpf.ie. The collation and analysis of outpatient waiting time data in a standardised format will reveal the distribution of long waiters across all hospitals. In the first instance, this will allow resources to be targeted towards those patients who are waiting longest and ensure that they are seen and assessed. For 2013, a maximum waiting time target has now been set of 12 months for a first time outpatient appointment.

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.

In relation to the specific queries raised by the Deputy, as these are service matters I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond directly to the Deputy.