Minister aims to halve numbers waiting over 18 months

The action plan on waiting lists announced by Health Minister, Simon Harris last month aims to reduce by 50% the number of patients waiting over 18 months by the end of December, writes Maureen Browne.

Simon Harris T.D.
Simon Harris T.D.

This follows the clinical validation of all inpatient/daycase waiting lists where patients are waiting longer than 15 months, which was scheduled to be completed by the end of August.

In August, the Minister said there were 3,488 patients waiting inpatient/daycase procedure for more than 18 months with a further 3,909 due to reach this waiting time should they not be treated by year end. The reduction by 50% of this figure would be an important step towards meeting the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment to targeting those waiting longest.

The Minister said the action plan involved the HSE rolling out Waiting List Improvement Programmes in each Hospital Group.

Special Delivery Unit Improvement Leads would drive the improvement programme at hospital and group level, monitor how hospitals were performing on a weekly and monthly basis and report regularly to the Department of Health.

In August, the Minister said there were 3,488 patients waiting inpatient/daycase procedure for more than 18 months with a further 3,909 due to reach this waiting time should they not be treated by year end.

“Each Hospital Group has developed a waiting list improvement plan and will implement these plans between now and the end of the year. The HSE Special Delivery Unit (SDU) will be carrying out site visits to hospitals and Hospital Groups and will have improvement leads working with hospitals to drive compliance with national waiting list targets and key process improvements. The SDU will monitor how hospitals are performing against their improvement plans on a weekly and monthly basis and this information with be reported regularly to the Department of Health.

“As I have already set out, the NTPF Endoscopy Waiting List 2016 Initiative has ring-fenced funding of over €1 million to outsource endoscopy procedures for those patients who are currently waiting over 12 months, or who, by end the of the year, would have been waiting over 12 months. The aim of this initiative is to treat an extra 3,000 urgent cases in this area by the end of the year and bring about a significant reduction in waiting list numbers and times.

The Minister said: “Reducing patient waiting times is a priority and requires a concerted effort. The Programme for Government clearly commits to €50 million from 2017 for waiting list initiatives with at least €15 million of this supporting a reactivated NTPF. However, I wanted to see what action we can take now to help those waiting longest and that’s why I asked the HSE to develop an action plan for 2016 that would achieve tangible improvements in how hospitals manage waiting lists.
“The key deliverable of this action plan is reducing the number of patients waiting for more than 18 months for inpatient/daycase procedure, by 50% by year end.”