Press Release

Minister for Health publishes the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 to improve Acute Hospital Waiting Times

NTPF to offer treatment to all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months for high volume procedures – including cataracts, joint replacements, tonsils and angiograms.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris TD has today published the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 aimed at reducing waiting lists for patients.

The joint Department of Health, Health Service Executive (HSE) and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) plan sets out a number of commitments aimed at improving access for patients waiting for hospital operations or procedures as well as patients waiting for a first Outpatient appointment.

Welcoming the plan’s publication, Minister Harris said: “Significant progress was made last year in improving access for patients for hospital operations and procedures. In 2018, through the work of the NTPF and the HSE the number of people waiting for a hospital procedure was reduced to 70,200 by the end of the year – from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017.

“Last year’s performance also brought significant progress in meeting the Sláintecare recommendation that patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure. At the end of December 2018 the number of patients waiting longer than 3 months had to 40,200 from just under 58,000 in July 2017, a decrease of 31%.

“However, it must be acknowledged that due to a number of factors, planned activity for January and February this year is behind target and waiting lists are higher than projected in the plan.

“The challenge now will be to catch up on lost activity and meet the targets set out in the plan. The HSE and the NTPF are fully committed to meeting these targets and I look forward to progress in this regard. Irish patients want and deserve timely access to hospital procedures and appointments.”

In 2019 the HSE will deliver 1.155 million elective hospital procedures and over one million new outpatient appointments, while the NTPF will deliver 25,000 Inpatient Day Case treatments, 5,000 Gastro Intestinal Scopes and 40,000 first Outpatient appointments.

This year the Plan will place a particular focus on ten high volume procedures, including cataracts, joint replacements, tonsils and angiograms.

Through the combined activity of the HSE and the NTPF, projections are that for these procedures, all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months will be offered treatment in 2019.

Speaking as the plan was published, NTPF CEO Liam Sloyan said working together the NPTF, HSE and the Department of Health achieved significant reductions in wait times for surgery in 2018. With increased funding in 2019, the NTPF is looking forward to building on this progress while also increasing its focus on patients waiting for outpatient consultations”.

The National Director, Acute Operations, HSE, Ms. Angela Fitzgerald also welcomed the publication of the Scheduled Care Access Plan.

“The HSE welcomes the additional funding made available to the NTPF by Government in 2019 to support improved access to treatment for patients on waiting lists.

“This presents a significant opportunity to build on the progress already made in 2018. The HSE will continue to work in close collaboration with the NTPF and the Department of Health in 2019 to deliver on the Scheduled Care Access Plan and deliver initiatives that will support recovery from reduced activity in the early part of 2019.”

Under the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019:

Improving access will remain a key priority in 2019, with funding to the NTPF increased to €75m.

• The overall number of patients on Inpatient/Day case Waiting List (excluding GI scopes) will fall from just over 70,200 in December 2018 to under 60,000;
• The number of patients waiting for GI scopes is projected to fall from 18,847at the end of 2018 to under 16,500;
• The number of patients waiting for a first Outpatient appointment will fall from over 516,000 at the end of 2018 to under 509,000.

A key element of this year’s Plan is the stabilisation of the Outpatient Waiting List. Access to outpatient services remains a significant challenge. In 2019, over 3.3 million patients will attend a HSE outpatient clinic while the NTPF will fund an additional 40,000 first outpatient appointments.

Furthermore, through the work of the NTPF Centralised Validation Unit to assess the true demand for inpatient, day case and outpatient service it is projected that an additional 30,000 patients will be taken off the Waiting Lists in 2019.

Overall, in 2019, NTPF activity will aim to remove over 100,000 patients off our Hospital Waiting Lists through a combination of arranging treatments for 70,000 patients and through the activity of the Central Validation Unit.

ENDS

Notes to the Editor
The joint Department of Health/HSE/NTPF Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 includes:

• A high level activity target from the HSE in line with the National Service Plan to deliver 1.155 million hospital operations and procedures at a value of €1.4 bn in 2019.
• Detailed plans from the NTPF to fund 25,000 hospital operations and procedures at a total cost of €58 million; 5,000 Gastro Intestinal Scopes at a cost of €5 million; and 40,000 outpatient first appointments at a cost of €6m.
• Projections by year end to reduce the overall number of patients on the waiting list for hospital operations and procedures (excluding GI scopes) from just over 70,200 in Dec 2018 to under 60,000;
• Within this overall reduction:
> The number of patients waiting longer than 3 months will reduce from 40,200 at the end of 2018 to 31,000;
> the number of patients waiting longer than 9 months will reduce from 14,900 at the end of 2018 to 10,000.
• It is also projected that for ten identified high volume procedures (Cataracts; Joint Replacements; Varicose Veins; Tonsillectomies; Cystoscopies; Angiograms; Lesions; Laparoscopic Cholecystectomies; Septoplasties; Dental/Maxillofacial Surgery), all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months will be offered treatment in 2019.
• A process to identify, develop treatment plans and, where possible, offer treatments, from within existing HSE and NTPF resources for long waiters not suitable for NTPF funded treatment will be developed between the NTPF and the HSE.
• The number of patients waiting for GI scopes is projected to fall from 18,847 at the end of 2018 to under 16,500
• All clinically suitable patients waiting over 9 months for a GI scope will be offered treatment.
• The number of patients waiting for Outpatients is projected to fall from 516,000 at the end of 2018 to 509,000 by the end of 2019.