Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (531)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

531. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Health his views on correspondence (details supplied) regarding consultant referrals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11738/14]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The development of Primary Care Services is a priority under the Programme for Government and is an essential component of the health service reform process. The aim is to provide up to 95% of health and social care in local communities and this will be achieved by increasing activity in the primary care setting and the redirecting of services away from acute hospitals to the community.

The Government has planned to implement the following key measures in primary care during its term in office and significant progress has already been made in these areas:

- Introduction of a universal GP service free at the point of access;

- Introduction of a new GP contract;

- Phased roll out of chronic disease management programmes;

- Expansion of the primary care workforce; and

- Continued development of the primary care infrastructure.

I am satisfied that the implementation of the above key measures will play a significant part in the re-focussing of health services in line with the Government's health reform programme and consequently, ensuring that more patients are treated in the community, reducing unnecessary hospital appointments.

In relation to waiting times for public patients to see consultants, a maximum waiting time target of 12 months has been set for a first time consultant-led outpatient appointment and this is reflected in the HSE's National Service Plan. The National Waiting List Management Policy, "A Standardised Approach to Managing Scheduled Care Treatment for In-Patient, Day Case and Planned Procedures, January 2013", has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care. This policy, which has been adopted by the HSE, sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists.

With regard to arrangements for the referral of private patients to consultants, neither my Department nor the HSE have any function in the matter.