Improving waiting times for hospital procedures is a key commitment in the Programme for Government and €75 million was allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) in Budget 2019 to provide treatment for patients.
I hope to publish the joint Department of Health/HSE/NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 for inpatient, day case and outpatients shortly. The plan will ensure an appropriate balance between high volume activities and offering treatment to complex long-waiting patients. It will reflect activity targets from the HSE, in line with the National Service Plan, to reduce waiting times across specialties and improve access to appointments and procedures. The plan will also set out activity levels for the NTPF in line with their increased allocation of funding in 2019.
The NTPF will deliver this activity through working with hospital groups and individual hospitals as well as private health providers to maximise the number of patients treated in both public and private capacity. Under the Plan the NTPF has committed to make offers of treatment to patients waiting for one of 75 hospital procedures, which will include orthopaedics. The longest-waiting patients who are clinically suitable for one of these targeted procedures will be offered treatment in 2019.
My Department has placed a particular priority on performance improvement in scheduled care in order to improve access for patients and oversees the performance of the HSE and the NTPF against agreed targets. This includes weekly analysis of waiting list figures provided by the NTPF and regular review meetings with the HSE and the NTPF.