Wednesday, 13 May 2020

Questions (584, 585)

Carol Nolan


584. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health his plans to clear the waiting list for ophthalmic services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4528/20]

View answer

Carol Nolan


585. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Health the number of patients with cataracts waiting for treatment in counties Laois and Offaly; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4529/20]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 584 and 585 together.

Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for Government. In recent years, my Department has worked with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) and made considerable improvements to improve access for patients waiting for high volume procedures and life limiting procedures including cataracts.

At the end of July 2017, the number of people waiting for a cataract procedure was 10,024. Since then the numbers waiting have consistently improved and at the end of December 2019, they stood at 4,388. Of these, 396 patients are waiting over 9 months which represents a reduction of 91% when compared to July 2017, when the number waiting over 9 months stood at 4,371. A key development to improve access to Ophthalmology services was the opening of a stand-alone high-volume consultant-led cataract theatre by the University of Limerick Hospital Group in Nenagh Hospital in 2018, with the intention that it would facilitate patients from surrounding geographical areas to avail of their treatment there.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer all non-urgent elective scheduled care activity, including outpatient clinics. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources are made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the World Health Organisation, and the National Action Plan published on 16 May. The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. It is envisaged that the private hospitals will play an important role in this regard.

My Department, the HSE and the NTPF are currently working together to estimate the impact of Covid 19 on Scheduled Care waiting lists, in order to be prepared to address any backlog or pent up demand. My Department continues to ensure that the resources available throughout our health system are best utilised at this unique and challenging time.

The information requested by the Deputy has been provided to my Department by the NTPF and is set out in the following table.

Total Waiters for Cataract Surgery with Area of Reisdence in Laois/Offaly by Wait Time Band as at 26/03/2020