Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (109)

Michael McGrath

Question:

109. Deputy Michael McGrath asked the Minister for Health the reason 4,450 persons have been waiting for an outpatient consultation in Cork city hospitals since before 1 January 2017. [5407/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I am conscious that waiting times are often unacceptably long and of the burden that this places on patients and their families. In this regard, I am committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.

I hope to publish the joint Department of Health, Health Service Executive (HSE) and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 shortly. This will set out commitments aimed at improving access for patients waiting for hospital operations or procedures, as well as patients waiting for a first Outpatient appointment.

A key element of this Plan is the stabilisation of the Outpatient Waiting List which remains a significant challenge. The HSE, in line with the National Service Plan 2019 will provide 3.3 million outpatient appointments, more than 1 million of which will be first outpatient appointments.

In 2019, the HSE will focus in particular on specialties with a high volume of referrals and large proportions of long-waiting patients including ENT and Dermatology. In addition, the NTPF, with an increased allocation of €75million in 2019, will fund an additional 40,000 first outpatient appointments through weekend and out of hour’s clinics and ‘see and treat’ clinics.

The NTPF will deliver this additional activity in the health service by working with hospital groups and individual hospitals as well as private health providers to maximise the number of patients treated in both a public and private capacity. In this context, South/South West Hospital Group advise that through the support of the NPTF, 250 Orthopaedic patients will be seen in extra Outpatient sessions in 2019. This is a pathway that proved very successful in 2018 where similar additional clinics were used to provide outpatient appointments to 170 of the longest waiting patients.

The NTPF also advise that submissions considered and approved to date include provision for an additional Specialist Registrar and Nursing support to run additional Dermatology clinics for up to 500 long waiters in South Infirmary University Hospital in 2019.