I propose to take Questions Nos. 270 and 271 together.
I am conscious that waiting times are often unacceptably long and of the burden that this places on patients and their families. In this regard, I committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.
I published the joint Department of Health, Health Service Executive (HSE) and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) Scheduled Care Access Plan earlier this week. This Plan sets out a number of commitments aimed at improving access for patients waiting for hospital operations or procedures as well as patients waiting for a first Outpatient appointment.
The role of the NTPF is to authorise 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.
The information regarding waiting times for Wisdom Tooth Removal requested by the Deputy is currently being collated by officials in my Department and will be provided to the Deputy directly as soon as it becomes available.
With regard to the matter the exclusion of accredited specialists from providing wisdom tooth removal or impacted teeth removal service, I have asked the HSE to respond to the Deputy directly.