A key challenge for our health system is to ensure that patients have timely access to health services, in light of increasing demand. This Government is committed to a sustained focus on improving wait times, particularly for those waiting longest.
While the numbers on waiting lists are undoubtedly too high, the key issue is how long people are waiting. According to the September waiting list data published by the NTPF, 76% of patients on the outpatient waiting lists for Mayo General Hospital are waiting less than 12 months for their appointment and 82% are waiting less than 15 months.
My Department works closely with the HSE and the NTPF to implement measures to reduce waiting times. At my request, in August, the HSE developed an action plan to reduce, by year end, the number of patients currently waiting 18 months or more for an inpatient-daycase procedure.
Also the NTPF is currently implementing an Endoscopy Initiative which aims to ensure that, by year end, no patient will be waiting 12 months or more for an endoscopy procedure.
Furthermore, €7m of the Winter Initiative funding is to be utilised to fund a targeted waiting list programme to provide treatment for patients waiting for orthopaedic, spinal and scoliosis procedures.
Finally, the Budget 2017 provides for the treatment of our longest-waiting patients. €20m is being allocated to the NTPF, rising to €55m in 2018. Planning of this initiative is at an advanced stage by the NTPF, my Department and the HSE.
In relation to the specific query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly.