Press Release

Minister Harris welcomes HSE Scoliosis Waiting List Action Plan

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has today welcomed the publication of the HSE Scoliosis Waiting List Action Plan for 2017.

The Minister stated: “As I have been saying since I came into office, reducing waiting times is an absolute priority for me and one of my key objectives for this year. Too many patients wait far too long for treatment in our health service and I am very aware of the stress and worry this places on patients and their families.

“The HSE, working with the Children’s Hospital Group and my Department, has developed a Scoliosis Waiting List Action Plan over the last number of months and I am pleased to announce that the plan is now finalised and the HSE advises me that implementation is on target,” the Minister said.

This very specific HSE Action Plan has been put in place for scoliosis to ensure that no child needing surgery will be waiting more than four months for spinal fusion and other spinal procedures by the end of 2017.

Since February this year, approximately 100 spinal surgeries have taken place across a number of hospitals, and outsourcing to hospitals nationally and abroad is currently underway. A new orthopaedic theatre opened in Crumlin in April ensuring that spinal surgeries in the hospital are being conducted with leading edge technology in the most up-to-date environment. With ongoing nurse recruitment, it is expected that theatre capacity in Crumlin will increase by three days a week in total with effect from July and a noticeable impact on waiting times is expected in the coming months.

Inpatient/Daycase and Outpatient waiting list action

In relation to Inpatient/Daycase and Outpatient Waiting List Action Plans, the focus is on reducing the number of patients who will be waiting 15 months or more for inpatient / daycase treatment or an outpatient appointment by the end of October 2017. The Inpatient/Daycase Action Plan aims to remove over 29,000 patients by end October through a combination of normal hospital activity funded under the National Service Plan, as well as insourcing and outsourcing initiatives utilising €15m of NPTF funding. Over 12,000 patients have already come off the waiting list under this plan. The Outpatient Plan will seek to remove over 95,000 patients by the end of October 2017 and around 36,000 patients have had their outpatient appointments under this plan to date.

The Minister said: “There is no doubt that our public hospital system is challenged in meeting the growing demand for care. Last year alone, there was a 2% increase in inpatient and day-case activity over 2015. During 2016 almost 1.69 million patients received inpatient or daycase treatment in our hospitals, an increase of almost 40,000 on 2015.

“Consequently, through these Action Plans and the €15m of NPTF funding for patient treatment allocated in Budget 2017, I am determined that as much progress as possible will be made to reduce the numbers of patients waiting longest for treatment and I will be meeting with the HSE and NTPF on a regular basis throughout 2017 to ensure that the maximum number of long-waiting patients receive treatment under these Action Plans and that we achieve the best value also.

“Finally, I wish to emphasise that the work due to take place this year is only the first step towards a more sustainable and sustained reduction in waiting times for patients. The NTPF allocation for 2018 will rise to €50m and planning for next year has already commenced.”

ENDS

Notes for Editors

The key points of the HSE Waiting List Action Plans are as follows:

1. The Inpatient/Daycase Waiting List Action Plan has been developed in conjunction with the NTPF and focuses on reducing the number of patients who will be waiting 15 months or more for inpatient / daycase treatment by the end of October 2017. The Plan sets a target to remove over 29,000 patients from the Inpatient Waiting List through a combination of normal hospital National Service Plan funded activity, as well as insourcing and outsourcing initiatives utilising €15m of NPTF funding. Since February, over 12,000 patients have already come off the List under this Plan.

2. The Outpatient Waiting List Action Plan focuses on reducing the number of patients who will be waiting 15 months or more for outpatient appointments by the end of October 2017. The Plan aims to remove over 95,000 patients from the Outpatient Waiting List representing a 5% increase in activity over last year and will be achieved through process improvement and long-term sustainable goals in order to reduce OPD waiting lists. Since February, around 36,000 patients have had their outpatient appointments under this Plan.

3. The specific HSE Action Plan for Scoliosis available here aims to ensure that no patient will be waiting more than four months for surgery by the end of 2017. The Plan addresses treatment of children requiring both spinal fusion and other spinal procedures and includes insourcing in the Children’s Hospital Group and the broader public hospital sector, as well as outsourcing initiatives, including private providers nationally and abroad. In tandem, the HSE is working to develop a long-term sustainable solution for scoliosis and paediatric orthopaedic cases. In relation to scoliosis, since February approximately 100 surgeries have taken place to date.

In addition to the HSE Waiting List Action Plans, a Daycase Initiative is also currently being implemented by the NTPF and it is expected that in excess of 2,000 patients will receive treatment under this Initiative. The NTPF has advised that over 300 patients have accepted an offer of treatment in a private hospital and that over 80 patients have received their procedure.

Paediatric Scoliosis Services Co-design Group established

Good communication is a pre-requisite for a good service experience for patients and families. The Children’s Hospital Group (of which Crumlin and Temple Street are a part) has established a paediatric scoliosis services co-design group to assist in the design of a contemporary, values-based and patient-centred approach to service delivery in scoliosis services. The Group recently held its first meeting at which it appointed its independent chair, agreed its priorities for the coming months, and created subgroups to map current services and plan future best practice services for scoliosis.