Press Release

Cowen welcomes fall in waiting times for key specialties

Brian Cowen TD, Minister for Health and Children, today (1st December 1998) welcomed the decrease in waiting times for a number of key specialites under the Waiting List Initiative.

The Minister noted that the length of time that public in-patients had to wait in a number of key specialties had fallen for both adults and children. In the case of adults, there was a noticeable decline in the proportion of patients waiting for longer than the maximum target period of twelve months in cardiac surgery, orthopaedics, plastic surgery and general surgery. For children, there were significant falls in the proportion waiting for longer than the target period of six months in orthopaedics, surgery and urology.

The Minister noted that the proportion of adults waiting for longer than twelve months fell by:

  • nearly 5% in the year ending 30 September 1998 in cardiac surgery
  • nearly 4% since June 1998 in orthopaedics
  • almost 5% since June 1998 in plastic surgery and
  • nearly 3.5% since June 1998 in general surgery.

The news in relation to children’s specialties was also positive in some key specialties. The proportion of children waiting for more than six months fell by:

  • over 5% since June 1998 in orthopaedics
  • nearly 3.5% since June 1998 and almost 18% in the year to end September in general surgery and
  • nearly 2% since June 1998 and over 22% in the year to end-September 1998 in urology.

The Minister said that while the total number on waiting lists had increased in the quarter to 30 September 1998, it was a step in the right direction when the key indicator – that of waiting times – had declined in a number of important specialties.

“I will shortly be announcing a series of important measures to tackle the issue of waiting lists and waiting times . We can now start to make a significant break-through in addressing this issue in the year ahead”, said the Minister.

The Minister said that his approach to tackling waiting lists and waiting times was proving successful in a number of areas, most notably in cardiac surgery.

“The number of adults awaiting cardiac surgery in the last year have fallen by 309. This underlines how a targeted approach, in line with the forthcoming cardiovascular strategy, can yield significant benefits”, said the Minister.