Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for Government. In this regard, the Government is committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures.
Budget 2019 announced that the Government has 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/NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 was published in March and sets out measures to improve care for patients waiting for scheduled care in 2019 by reducing waiting times for inpatient/day case treatment and outpatient appointments. The plan places a strong focus on ten high-volume Inpatient/Day Case procedures. When combined with HSE activity, it is projected that the NTPF will be in a position to offer treatment to all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months for one of these high-volume procedures.
A key element of the Plan is the stabilisation of the Outpatient Waiting List. Under the Plan the HSE, in line with the National Service Plan, will aim to deliver 3.3 million outpatient appointments, of which approximately 1 million will be first appointments. For its part the NTPF will aim to deliver 40,000 first Outpatient appointments.
The NTPF have advised my Department that the hospitals listed by the Deputy do not generally treat children (defined as any patient aged 16 years or less). However, the NTPF have further clarified that in some specific instances these hospitals may provide IPDC care for children, for example if the child does not suit the use of a child's bed, or if a child requires multi complex treatment and intensive care. On the most recent IPDC and GI Scope waiting lists, for the hospitals referenced by the Deputy, there were just 15 patients whose dates of birth indicate that they are less than 16 years of age.
On the most recent Outpatient list, for the same hospitals, there were 1,248 patients whose dates of birth indicate that they are less than 16 years of age (it is of note that this figure includes children listed on the Louth County Hospital Paediatric Outpatient Clinic).