Minister for Health opens Cataract Centre in Tipperary as new update shows fall in waiting lists for cataract treatment
Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today (Monday 5th November) officially opened the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital.The visit coincides with the publication of a new update from the National Treatment Purchase Fund showing a fall in the numbers of people on the waiting lists for treatment for cataracts.Minister Harris said: “Improving access to treatment for patients is a key priority of Government. The opening of the UL Hospitals Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital will deliver on this objective providing improvements for patients the mid-west and surrounding areas.I am delighted to be here this morning to officially open the University of Limerick Hospitals Ophthalmology Centre at Nenagh. This centre represents just under €1 million in capital investment and will be a centre of excellence for the UL hospital group and surrounding counties.”This year has seen ongoing improvements with the number of patients waiting for inpatient and day case procedures now at 72,700 from the peak of 86,100 in July 2017, amounting to a 16% reduction. The number of patients waiting over nine months has reduced from over 28,000 to under 19,000 in the same period equating to a 32% reduction. It is expected that through the combination of HSE and NTPF activity this trend will continue, and it is projected that the overall number of patients on the inpatient day case waiting list will reduce to 70,000 at the end of 2018 and to under 59,000 by the end of 2019.The Inpatient/Day Case Waiting List Action Plan allocated a quarter of the planned NTPF procedures to cataract treatments, which has resulted in a marked improvement in waiting lists for this procedure.The National Treatment Purchase Fund today published their progress update on Cataract Waiting Lists which shows that by the end of September there were just over 6,600 on the waiting lists. This marks a 33% reduction compared to July 2017 when it stood at over 10,000.The Minister welcomed the publication of the report.He said “This year has seen ongoing improvements to waiting lists numbers and notably across particular procedures including cataracts. While the improvements in overall numbers waiting for a cataract procedure have seen sustained improvements, these are all the more notable when the numbers waiting over nine months are taken into account. These have fallen by 80% since July 2017.”The Department of Health continues to work with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund to improve timely access to treatment for patients as well as driving improvements to ensure the provision of up to date waiting list data which reflects the true demand for hospital services.
Actions this year include sustainable solutions such as the development of the Centre at Nenagh and the establishment of the Central Waiting List Validation Unit in the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).The Cataract Centre at Nenagh Hospital is on track to expand to full capacity in 2019 and to deliver over 2000 procedures. The centre is ideally located to enable the UL hospital group, together with the HSE and NTPF, to maximise the use of the Centre through reaching out to other hospital groups so that patients from surrounding regions can be referred to the Centre for their treatment.The establishment of the Central Waiting List Validation Unit in the NTPF will ensure good practice around the management of hospital waiting lists including twice yearly validation processes. Over the coming months, the NTPF will work with hospitals to write to patients on waiting lists to confirm they are ready, willing and available to proceed with hospital care.Budget 2019 announced that the Government had further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding to the National Treatment Purchase fund (NTPF) increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2019. As a result, the number of patients waiting for a hospital procedure is projected to fall to below 59,000 by the end of 2019.In 2019, the NTPF plans to deliver 25,000 Inpatient Day Case treatments 5,000 GI Scopes and 40,000 first outpatient appointments.Minister Harris concluded “We are now firmly in the era of Sláintecare and I am determined to improve timely access to treatment for our patients including the ongoing commitment to tackle waiting lists.
I am delighted that through Budget 2019 we will have a significant fund for implementation of key measures envisaged by Sláintecare including a ring-fenced fund for integration of care. In addition, we further increased investment in this area, with funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to increase from €55m in 2018 to €75m in 2019.As a result of securing this additional funding, my Department is working closely with the NTPF and the HSE to finalise a Scheduled Care Access Plan for 2019 before the end of this year. A priority of my Department is to ensure there is a seamless continuation of the considerable progress made this year into next year.”