Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for Government. In this regard, the Government is committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.
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 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 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 high-volume procedures.
At the end of July 2017, the number of people waiting for a cataract procedure was 10,024. Under the Inpatient Day Case Access Plan 2018, Cataracts were one of the specialties targeted by the NTPF, and by end December 2018, the number of patients waiting had fallen to 6,440, a reduction of 36%. The number of patients waiting for a Cataract procedure at the end of June 2019 had further reduced to 5,739, with 454 of patients waiting over 9 months. This represents a reduction of 3,917 or 89% when compared to July 2017, when there were 4,371 patients waiting over 9 months for a cataract operation.
In relation to the number of persons added to the waiting list, the information requested by the Deputy is currently being collated by officials in my Department and will be provided to the Deputy directly as soon as it becomes available.
In relation to the following matters raised – the number of persons removed from the waiting list; the number from the waiting list treated by the HSE; the number of persons from Cork and Kerry that availed of the cross border directive for cataract treatment in 2018 and the number of persons the HSE were notified of that dies while waiting for cataract operations; I have asked the HSE to respond directly to the Deputy.