Reducing waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures is a key commitment of government. While the last 18 months have seen considerable progress in the reduction of waiting times for Inpatient and Daycase treatments, I am conscious that the Outpatient Waiting List remains a significant challenge as demand for acute hospital services continues to grow.
Budget 2019 announced that the Government had further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2019. The joint Department of Health, HSE, and National Treatment Purchase Fund Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 was published in March. Under the Plan the HSE, in line with the National Service Plan, will aim to deliver 1.155 million elective inpatient and day case discharges and 3.3 million outpatient appointments, of which more than 1 million will be to new patients. For its part, the NTPF will provide additionality through the provision of 25,000 IPDC appointments, 5,000 GI scopes, and 40,000 outpatient appointments.
South/South West Hospital Group has advised my Department that University Hospital Waterford is focused on the reduction of waiting lists and is actively working with the NTPF to engage in initiatives to reduce outpatient waiting times. To date this year the NTPF has approved an additional 3,600 outpatient appointments for University Hospital Waterford, and of these 1,100 are for the specialty of Orthopaedics. UHW advise that these extra orthopaedic appointments have been made available for the longest waiting patients.
University Hospital Waterford has advised that it remains committed to working in collaboration with South South-West Hospital Group, and the NTPF, on waiting list initiative supports.