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Hospital Waiting Lists

Dáil Éireann Debate, Thursday - 31 March 2022

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Questions (112)

Denis Naughten

Question:

112. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health his plans to address the chronic waiting lists within the health system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11378/22]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The 2022 Waiting List Action Plan, which was launched on 25 February, allocates €350 million to the HSE and NTPF to reduce active waiting lists for acute scheduled care by more than 132,000 (18 percent) this year, which will bring the number of people waiting to their lowest point in five years. Projections for 2022 show that over 1.5 million patients will be added to active waiting lists this year. Many people stayed away from the health service during the pandemic and, as these people come forward for treatment, it will place huge additional demand on health services.

Under the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan, the Department, HSE and NTPF will deliver urgent additional capacity to treat 1.7 million people as well as investing in longer term reforms to bring sustained reductions in waiting lists.

If this €350 million was not made available it is projected that, due to surging demand from the anticipated release of post-pandemic pent-up demand for healthcare and demographic factors, active waiting lists for acute scheduled care would significantly increase by up to 40 percent at the end of 2022, with over a million people remaining on these lists.

The 2022 Waiting List Action Plan will also progress intermediate waiting time targets this year, as set out in the National Service Plan (of 18 months for OPD; 12 months for IPDC; and 12 months for GI scopes).

The 2022 Plan also focuses on 15 high volume inpatient day case procedures, including cataracts and hip and knee replacements, so that every person waiting over 6 months for one of these procedures, and who is clinically ready, will receive an offer of treatment.

The 2022 Plan details 45 actions to reduce and reform waiting lists.

The 2022 Plan targets are largely on track, with fewer than expected additions to the waiting lists so far this year. However, the recent surge in both ED attendance and COVID cases (and associated staff shortages) in hospitals in March is resulting in the curtailment of elective activity, which will negatively impact achieving the waiting list reduction targets.

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