Press Release

Minister Harris announces action plan on waiting lists

Minister for Health Simon Harris today announced an action plan to be implemented in the latter half of 2016 aimed at reducing the number of patients on waiting lists.

  • Reduce by 50% the number of patients waiting over 18 months by year end.
  • Clinical validation of all inpatient/daycase waiting lists where patients are waiting longer than 15 months by end of August.
  • HSE to roll out Waiting List Improvement Programme in each Hospital Group.
  • Special Delivery Unit Improvement Leads to drive the Improvement Programme at hospital and group level, monitor how hospitals are performing on a weekly and monthly basis and report regularly to the Department of Health.
  • HSE to develop further waiting list proposals for 2016 for targeted measures to address waiting lists in a number of specialist areas for the Minister’s consideration.

The Minister said:

“Reducing patient waiting times is a priority and requires a concerted effort. The Programme for Government clearly commits to €50 million from 2017 for waiting list initiatives with at least €15 million of this supporting a reactivated NTPF. However, I wanted to see what action we can take now to help those waiting longest and that’s why I asked the HSE to develop an action plan for 2016 that would achieve tangible improvements in how hospitals manage waiting lists. The HSE has now reported back to me with a set of specific actions that will be implemented between now and the end of the year.

“The key deliverable of this action plan is reducing the number of patients waiting for more than 18 months for inpatient/daycase procedure, by 50% by year end. There are currently 3,488 patients waiting inpatient/daycase procedure for more than 18 months with a further 3,909 due to reach this waiting time should they not be treated by year end. The reduction by 50% of this figure would be an important step towards meeting the Programme for a Partnership Government commitment to targeting those waiting longest.

“In support of this target the HSE will commence immediately a programme of clinical validation of all inpatient/daycase patients waiting more than 15 months. This activity should be completed by the end of August and should lead to improved accuracy of lists and increased capacity for treating those patients waiting longest.

“In addition, in order to improve the capacity of hospitals to manage waiting lists in the longer term the HSE, working with hospitals, is rolling out a new Waiting List Improvement Programme.

“Each Hospital Group has developed a waiting list improvement plan and will implement these plans between now and the end of the year. The HSE Special Delivery Unit (SDU) will be carrying out site visits to hospitals and Hospital Groups and will have improvement leads working with hospitals to drive compliance with national waiting list targets and key process improvements. The SDU will monitor how hospitals are performing against their improvement plans on a weekly and monthly basis and this information with be reported regularly to the Department of Health.

“As I have already set out, the NTPF Endoscopy Waiting List 2016 Initiative has ring-fenced funding of over €1 million to outsource endoscopy procedures for those patients who are currently waiting over 12 months, or who, by end the of the year, would have been waiting over 12 months. The aim of this initiative is to treat an extra 3,000 urgent cases in this area by the end of the year and bring about a significant reduction in waiting list numbers and times.

“Looking forward, the Department of Health is working closely with the HSE to finalise the Winter Initiative 2016 for implementation ahead of the coming Winter, and also to develop specific initiatives focused on reducing waiting lists in accordance with the Programme for a Partnership Government’s commitments.”