Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (1556)

Eamon Scanlon


1556. Deputy Eamon Scanlon asked the Minister for Health the action being taken to address waiting times for orthopaedic procedures in the north-west; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33403/19]

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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, the Government is committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.

The latest published National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) figures for the end of June show that there are 3,420 patients on the IPDC Orthopaedics waiting list at Saolta University Health Care Group. Of these 73% (2,508) are waiting 9 months or less and 84% (2,856) are waiting 12 months or less.

In terms of NTPF orthopaedics proposals for Saolta University Healthcare Group, 4 IPDC orthopaedic proposals have been approved to the end of June 2019 with 420 offers of treatment (CANs) authorised by the NTPF in public and private hospitals.

More broadly, Budget 2019 announced that the Government has further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the 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 in March and sets out measures to improve care for patients waiting for scheduled care in 2019 by reducing waiting times for inpatient/day case treatment and outpatient appointments. The plan places a strong focus on ten high-volume Inpatient/Day Case procedures, including hip/knee replacements. 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 high-volume procedures.

The NTPF advise that over recent months they have placed a particular focus on engaging with hospital groups and individual hospitals to identify waiting list proposals. The NTPF welcomes proposals from all acute hospitals for initiatives to improve access for patients on waiting lists.

In addition, my Department is working with the HSE and NTPF, under the Access Plan, with the objective of developing medium-long term improvement initiatives for patient access to hospital procedures. This will include moving care to more appropriate settings and providing care at the lowest level of complexity.