With regard to the information requested by the Deputy, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) advise that at the end of November 2019 there were 30 patients with an area of residence in County Wexford waiting for cataract surgery. Of these, 14 patients are waiting less than 3 months. There are no patients waiting more than 15 months for cataract surgery.
Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures is a key priority for Government. In recent years, my Department has worked with the HSE and NTPF and made considerable improvements to improve access for patients waiting for high volume procedures and life limiting procedures including cataracts.
At the end of July 2017, the number of people waiting for a cataract procedure was 10,024. Since then the numbers waiting have consistently improved and at the end of November 2019, they stand at 4,320. Of these, 448 patients are waiting over 9 months which represents a reduction of 90% when compared to July 2017, when the number waiting over 9 months stood at 4,371.
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 2019. The year-on-year increases to the NTPF since Budget 2017 reflect this Government’s priority to improve waiting times for patients to access hospital treatment. The Department of Health is working with the HSE and NTPF to develop the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2020, which will include ophthalmology 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.