Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Questions (220)

Michael Lowry


220. Deputy Michael Lowry asked the Minister for Health the number of patients who are currently waiting for diagnosis and treatment in the neurology department of University Hospital Limerick since January 2019 to September 2021; the number of these patients who are on the waiting list for treatment are waiting longer than the national guidelines for same by county in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51381/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last nineteen months as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently as a result of the ransomware attack. While significant progress was made in reducing waiting times from June 2020 onwards, the surge in Covid-19 cases in the first quarter of 2021 and the associated curtailment of acute hospital services, coupled with the ransomware attack of May 2021, has impacted waiting times.

My Department, the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) are focusing on improving access to elective care in order to reduce waiting times for patients. These plans 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, providing virtual clinics and increasing capacity in the public hospital system.

On the 7th  October I published the Acute Waiting List Action Plan. This plan, to run until December 2021, has a series of targeted measures that are designed to address the growth in waiting lists caused by Covid-19 and the cyber-attack.

In addition, my Department, the HSE and the NTPF are also working on a Multi Annual Waiting List Plan to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years.

For 2022 an additional allocation of €250 million, comprised of €200 million to the HSE and €50 million to the National Treatment Purchase Fund has been provided in respect of work to reduce hospital and community waiting lists. The €250 million will be used to fund additional activity in both the public and private sectors. The €50 million additional funding provided to the NTPF brings its total allocation for 2022 to €150 million, and as a consequence there will be a budget of €350 million available to support vital initiatives to improve access to acute hospitals and community health services.

In relation to the data requested by the Deputy, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) collect, collate and publish waiting lists in respect of outpatient specialties and inpatient/daycase procedures. Waiting times can be examined in terms of the appointment or procedure that a patient is waiting for, however, it is not possible for the NTPF to identify patients based on their clinical diagnosis.

The attached document details the outpatient waiting list for Neurology in University Hospital Limerick by area of residence. The number of patients waiting longer than the national guidelines would be a service/clinical matter and I have asked the HSE to respond to you directly on this as soon as possible.

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