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 increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2019. The joint Department of Health, HSE, and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) 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. These outpatient initiatives are focused on those specialties that have a number of long-waiting patients. To date this year the NTPF has approved an additional 3,600 outpatient appointments for University Hospital Waterford, 500 of which are for the specialty of Urology.
In relation to urology services, UHW advise that a Locum Consultant Urologist has been appointed to focus on the longest waiting patients. An additional clinic has been established to schedule long-waiting patients, and from mid-July an additional urology clinic will also commence as part of the wider South South-West Hospital Group plans in South Tipperary General Hospital.
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.