It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer most scheduled care activity in March, April, and May of this year. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the advice of the World Health Organisation.
Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols.
The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.
In addition the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is currently reviewing strategies to maximise activity and benefit for patients, to include, increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding “see and treat” services where minor procedures are provided at the same time as outpatient consultations, funding hybrid services where public and private hospitals contribute to the treatment of patients, virtual clinics and clinical validation.
The information requested by the Deputy in relation to Angiogram, Cataract, Endoscopy, Tonsillectomy, Hip and Knee Replacements (reported as small volume procedures) is provided in the attached table. Also attached is the waiting list for CT and MRI for Q3 2020.
In terms of the CT and MRI data, the HSE advises that a pilot project commenced in 2016 by HSE Acute Hospitals Division to progress the collection of national radiology waiting list data. The project has been supported by the Radiology Clinical Care Programme and has involved key stakeholders across the system including the National Integrated Medical Imaging System (NIMIS) Team, Hospital Groups, and the support of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) for data collection and data management expertise.
The information that is currently being collected is presently being tested and validated at hospital, hospital group and national level and as such should not be used/reported without the context of the caveats set out below:
- Data is subject to inclusions and exclusions which are documented in the Data Profile Document. This document is available from Acute Operations and has been circulated to all Hospital Groups.
- Data contains urgent, routine and surveillance/planned activity which is currently not broken down in detail, as such this includes surveillance/planned activity which may not be exceeding planned date.
- Data is still undergoing validation at Hospital and Hospital Group level.
- Data does not take into account local nuances at site level (Site profile developed to support understanding of same).
- The purpose of this aggregate data is to provide a National Level overview of the number of patients waiting for modalities of CT, MRI and Ultrasound.
- This report is not intended to be used for the active management of hospital diagnostics waiting list, local reports and mechanisms should continue to be used for the management of diagnostics waiting lists at hospital level.
In relation to the specific query raised regarding waiting lists for Scheduled Percutaneous Coronary Intervention, Mammography Radiology, and Diabetic Vascular Screening, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.