Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for Government. Budget 2019 announced that the Government has further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2019.
The joint Department of Health/HSE/NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 was published recently and sets out measures to improve care for patients waiting for scheduled care in 2019 by reducing wait times for inpatient/day case treatment and outpatient appointments. The plan will place a strong focus on a number of high-volume procedures, including cataracts. When combined with HSE activity, it is projected that the NTPF will be in a position to offer treatment to all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months for one of these procedures.
The HSE operates the Cross Border Directive (CBD) in Ireland. Under the terms of the Directive, patients of an EU/EEA Member State who meet the necessary criteria may opt to avail of healthcare provided under the legislation of their Member State of affiliation in another EU/EEA Member State and be reimbursed the lesser of the cost of receiving the treatment abroad, or the cost in their own Member State. The HSE provides information for patients on the CBD on its website which can be accessed at http://www.hse.ie/eng/services/list/1/schemes and also by phone at 056 7784551.
Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
The National Waiting List Management Policy, a standardised approach to managing scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures, since January 2014, 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.
In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.