I propose to take Questions Nos. 1012 and 1013 together.
The Department of Health is committed to the development by the HSE of a well-governed and patient-centred health care service for adults and children in the transgender community, in line with the Programme for Government.
It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. While significant work continues to positively impact on waiting times and improve pathways to elective care, acute hospitals have been impacted by operational challenges arising from surges in cases related to the Delta and Omicron variants.
At present the acute hospital system is prioritising unscheduled Covid-19 care and urgent time-sensitive work. The HSE has confirmed to the Department that patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols.
The Department of Health continues to work with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to identify ways to improve access to care, including through increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding “see and treat” services, providing virtual clinics, and increasing capacity in the public hospital system.
In addition, the Department of Health, the HSE and the NTPF are also working on a Multi Annual Waiting List Plan to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years. This process will be overseen by a Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary General of the Department of Health and includes representatives from the HSE and NTPF.
The PQ has been referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy for a specific response on the waiting list for the National Gender Service as a service delivery issue.