Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for the Government.
The 2019 Scheduled Care Access Plan is currently being finalised by my Department and will set out HSE activity levels to reduce waiting lists across specialties and improve access. The Access Plan will also set out activity levels for the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) who, following an increase in funding in Budget 2019 to €75 million, will supply additionality to HSE activity by arranging both insourced and outsourced appointments and treatments to reduce waiting times experienced by patients.
The Access Plan is being developed to ensure an appropriate balance between high volume activities and offering treatment to complex long waiting patients. The NTPF will do this by inviting public hospitals to seek solutions for very long waiters either in the private sector or through insourcing.
Under the Waiting List Action Plan the NTPF have committed to make offers of treatment to patients waiting for one of 50 high-volume procedures including hip replacement. The longest waiting patients who are clinically suitable for outsourcing for one of these targeted procedures will be offered treatment in 2019.
In terms of treatment offers, the NTPF authorises public hospitals to offer outsourced treatment to clinically suitable long waiting patients who are on an inpatient/day case waiting list for surgery, having been referred on to such a list following clinical assessment by a consultant/specialist at an outpatient clinic. NTPF authorisations are made in respect of the longest waiting patients first.
In terms of the specific patient query raised, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.