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.
The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) supply additionality to HSE core activity in order to reduce waiting times experienced by patients for a hospital appointment, operation or procedure. In this context, the NTPF has advised my Department that they have approved a number of Outpatient proposals for ENT in 2019, which to date has provided over 4,400 patient appointments.
The latest National Treatment Purchase Fund figures show that there are 65,696 patients on the ENT Outpatient waiting list. Of these, 53% (34,507) are waiting 12 months or less. Overall, the ENT Outpatient waiting list has decreased by 0.6% (-383) when compared to the same period last year.
The figures for October also show that there are 4,401 patients on the ENT IPDC waiting list. Of these, 63% (2,759) are waiting 6 months or less, 75% (3,286) are waiting 9 months or less and 82% (3,608) are waiting 12 months or less. Overall, the ENT IPDC waiting list has decreased by 18% (-971) when compared to the same period last year.
More broadly, Budget 2020 announced that the Government has further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the NTPF increasing from €75 million in 2019 to €100 million in 2020.
My Department is working with the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund to develop the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2020. The National Service Plan 2020 will set out HSE planned activity level for the year ahead, while the NTPF will work with the hospital system to provide additionality to improve access to inpatient/daycase treatment and with a particular focus on hospital outpatient services.
In this regard, I would encourage all hospital groups and individual hospitals to engage with the NTPF to identify waiting list proposals for the remainder of this year and for 2020.