Tuesday, 5 February 2019

Questions (469)

Brendan Smith


469. Deputy Brendan Smith asked the Minister for Health the number of persons on outpatient waiting lists awaiting eye care procedures at the end of 2017 and 2018, respectively; his plans to reduce such waiting lists; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5687/19]

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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.

Last year, under the Inpatient/Day Case Action Plan for 2018 I sought real progress to drive down waiting lists for high volume procedures, but also to treat patients with life-limiting procedures such as cataracts. The waiting list figures for the end of December 2018 show that the efforts of the HSE, the NTPF and the individual Hospitals are delivering results. The total number of Inpatient/Daycase patients waiting for a cataract procedure fell from 10,024 in July 2017 to 6,440 by the end of 2018, a reduction of 36%. The numbers waiting more than 3 months showed a reduction of 55% in the same period, falling from 7,967 to 3,607, while those waiting more than 9 months fell from 4,371 to 554, a reduction of 87%.

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. My priority, under the Access Plan, is to ensure the continuation of the considerable progress made last year into this year.

A key element of this Plan will be 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 addition, the NTPF, with an increased allocation totalling €75 million 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 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.

The data sought by the deputy is outlined in the following table.

Ophthalmology Outpatient waiting list – end of 2017 and 2018

0-3 mths

3-6 mths

6-9 mths



15-18 mths

18+ mths