The annual Scheduled Care Access Plan sets out yearly activity targets for the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), along with measures to improve care for patients waiting for Scheduled Care.
Each year the Access Plan focuses on reducing waiting times for identified high-volume procedures, as well as very long waiters. The 2018 and 2019 Access Plans resulted in positive improvements in Inpatient and Daycase (IPDC) waiting lists which saw a reduction of 18% from 2017 to 2019, and some broader trends in improvement for GI Scopes and Outpatient (OPD) lists. The 2020 Access Plan had not been finalised for publication by March 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of routine elective scheduled care for a number of months.
In the context of addressing the impact of Covid-19 on scheduled care, the Government has allocated an additional €210m to the HSE for access to care, which includes funding to help address the shortfall in acute hospital capacity, due to measures introduced to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic, and address waiting lists. An additional €30m has also been given to the NTPF to help to address backlogs in waiting lists. This demonstrates the Government’s commitment to improving access to care including reducing waiting times for scheduled care.
The Department of Health, HSE and NTPF are working together to agree targets in relation to waiting list focused activity for 2021. It is expected that this work will conclude shortly.