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Ireland launches €350m investment in reducing hospital waiting lists

Christian Fernsby |
Ireland Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly launched the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan, the first year of a multi-annual reform programme to stabilise and reduce waiting lists and waiting times for elective care in Ireland, bringing about significant and lasting change in waiting list numbers.

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Topics: IRELAND   

Projections for 2022 show that over 1.5 million patients will be added to active waiting lists this year. This Plan details how the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) intend to ensure that an even higher number, 1.7 million, are treated and removed from waiting lists. This will bring our waiting list figures to the lowest number in the past five years.

This ambitious Plan identifies 45 actions as part of a comprehensive twin-track approach of investment to reduce and reform waiting lists. Targeted investment aims to get many more people treated as quickly as possible.

At the same time, reforming and investing in our public health service will eradicate the gap between demand and permanent capacity by addressing long-term reforms like improving patient pathways of care, enhancing data collection and information sharing, and revising waiting-list management protocols.

Speaking at the launch, Minister Donnelly said: "I am delighted to launch the 2022 Waiting list Action Plan, an ambitious, comprehensive, and targeted approach to significantly reduce waiting lists and waiting times. We know, the number of people on waiting lists was already too high before the pandemic and now, following months of disruption to services, there are over 730,000 waiting for care in Ireland.

"This Plan allocates €350 million to the HSE and NTPF to reduce waiting lists by 18 percent this year which will bring the number of people waiting to their lowest point in five years.

"While this Plan focuses on significant numbers and targets, it is fundamentally about ensuring people receive the right care in the right place, at the right time - reforming our health service through the fundamental principles of Sláintecare."

There will be a particular focus on 15 high volume inpatient day case procedures so that every person waiting for over 6 months who is clinically ready will receive an offer of treatment.

These are: cataracts, cystoscopies, hip replacements, knee replacements, skin lesions (general surgery and plastic surgery), varicose veins, angiograms, tonsillectomies, laparoscopic cholecystectomy, septoplasties, dental, hysteroscopy, laparoscopy (gynaecology), total abdominal hysterectomy and inguinal hernia repair.

The €350 million includes existing funding of €100 million allocated to the NTPF for 2022 plus an additional funding of €50 million, providing it with a total budget of €150 million for the year.

With this funding, NTPF activity is projected to remove 273,000 patients from waiting lists, with activity encompassing support for public hospitals to treat more patients, commissioning care in private hospitals, validation, data quality, reform and systems and process development.

In addition to NTPF activity, a significant proportion of the additional funding of €200 million is used to further increase activity so as to achieve a net reduction in waiting lists by the end of 2022.

This includes €15 million dedicated to priority areas of gynaecology, paediatric orthopaedics (with a specific focus on spinal surgery) and bariatric/obesity treatments, as well as €20 million for initiatives that will reduce specific community care waiting lists (including orthodontics, primary care child psychology/counselling, CAMHS and autism).

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