Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (232)

Denis Naughten


232. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Health the waiting times for cataract surgery in each hospital in which such surgery takes place; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23190/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

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 the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) and made considerable improvements to access for patients waiting for high volume procedures including cataracts. At the end of July 2017, the number of people waiting for a cataract procedure was 10,024. As of the end of July 2020, there were 5,525 patients waiting for a cataract procedure. Of these, 1,107 are waiting over 9 months which represents a reduction of 74% when compared to July 2017, when there were 4,249 waiting over 9 months.

A key development in improving access to Ophthalmology services was the opening of a stand-alone high-volume consultant-led cataract theatre by the University of Limerick Hospital Group in Nenagh Hospital in 2018, with the intention that it would facilitate patients from surrounding geographical areas to avail of their treatment there.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to pause most elective scheduled care activity with effect from the end March 2020. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, and the National Action Plan.

NPHET has since revised its recommendation on the pausing of all non-urgent health services, with a recommendation that the delivery of acute care be determined by appropriate clinical and operational decision making. Application of the essential risk mitigating steps set out in the guidance developed under the auspices of the NPHET Expert Advisory group will have operational implications, which will impact on throughput.

To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, the HSE launched its Strategic Framework for ‘Service Continuity in a Covid Environment’ on 24 June. Its implementation will ensure service resumption is done in an integrated way. This will involve a phased approach to ensure community services are strengthened. The Framework will also consolidate new ways of working and build on international knowledge. Further detail regarding the phases of service resumption are contained in the HSE’s ‘A Safe Return to Health Services’ document, published on their website on 22 July.

As the system continues to deliver Covid-19 and non-Covid 19 care side-by-side over a more prolonged period, my Department and the HSE will continue to work closely together to protect essential non-Covid 19 acute care and progress the provision of more routine non Covid-19 care.

The data requested by the Deputy concerning the waiting times for cataract surgery in each hospital in which such surgery takes place, is outlined in the link provided below, provided to my Department by the NTPF.

Waiting list report