Wednesday, 10 February 2021

Questions (860)

Thomas Pringle


860. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health when a child (details supplied) with scoliosis will get an operation. [6996/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures, including scoliosis services, remains a priority of Government. On 2nd January 2021, the HSE issued correspondence to the Acute hospital system advising of the need to curtail scheduled elective care. This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and the projected trend in admissions based upon community transmission levels of Covid-19. CHI has advised that under the current HSE guidelines, they have reduced the number of procedures to urgent and those that are time sensitive rather than a blanket cessation of all routine activity as was done in March last year.

CHI have confirmed that urgent Outpatient appointments continue to be held face to face, while some routine appointments have been deferred. Many specialties have switched to virtual appointments with some blended face to face appointments where deemed appropriate.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. Key social distancing measures and Infection Prevention and Control requirements, such as the current two-metre distancing, have had a material impact on the available physical space to deliver services, including scoliosis procedures. However, Children’s Health Ireland have confirmed that time dependent and urgent procedures will continue to be undertaken in CHI.

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 is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures. It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 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.

In relation to the particular query raised, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.