Plan hopes to reduce number of patients waiting for hospital procedures

The NTPF is to deliver 20,000 inpatient day case treatments

Plan hopes to reduce number of patients waiting for hospital procedures

Health Minister Simon Harris speaking to the press as he visit Dublin's Moore Street | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Health Minister Simon Harris has published an action plan set to reduce the number of patients waiting for hospital operations or procedures.

The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) is to offer treatment to all patients who are for waiting more than nine months for a number of high volume procedures - such as including cataract, hip and knee replacement, tonsils and scopes.

The Inpatient/Day Case Action Plan 2018 has been put together by the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the NTPF.

The HSE says it will deliver 1.14 million hospital operations or procedures in 2018 - and the NTPF will deliver 20,000 inpatient day case treatments and 4,000 gastro intestinal scopes.

Under the action plan, the Department of Health says the number of patients waiting longer than nine months will fall by 10,000.

It also says the overall number of patients waiting for hospital operations and procedures will fall to under 70,000 by the end of the year.

"Just the start"

Announcing the plan, Minister Harris said: "The target is that the overall number will fall to under 70,000 by the end of the year - from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017.

"All patients who are waiting more than nine months for a cataract, hip and/or knee replacement, tonsils, Gastro Intestinal scope or one of four other high-volume treatments will be offered treatment in 2018 if clinically suitable.

"While the improvements set out in the plan are significant, they are just the start and my ambition is to build upon this progress in 2019 and to further reduce waiting time for Irish patients."

The minister said he will "shortly" be publishing a plan to tackle outpatient waiting lists.

NTPF CEO Liam Sloyan, added: "With increased funding in 2018, we look forward to arranging treatment for a greater number of patients over a broader range of procedures and seeing the number of patients waiting for surgery decline."

And HSE Director-General Tony O'Brien said: "The HSE welcomes the funding of €55m that has been made available to the NTPF, and the funding provided to the HSE this year to tackle waiting lists.

"It will continue to work collaboratively with the NTPF to target appropriate solutions for long waiters and will seek to build on the successful initiatives undertaken in 2017 in our public and private hospitals."