Press Release

Minister Harris announces major focus on patients waiting longest in 2017

Minister for Health, Simon Harris, today (Thursday) announced that driving down the length of time patients are waiting for procedures is a priority for 2017. The Minister was speaking at the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTFP) Symposium where he launched the Fund’s Strategy for 2017-2019.

Launching the NTPF Strategy for the next three year the Minister said: “I am delighted to be here today to launch the NTPF’s Strategy 2017-2019 which reflects and supports the intent of the Programme for a Partnership Government. Reducing waiting times for our longest waiting patients is one of the Government’s priorities and it is for this reason that €20 million was allocated to the NTPF in the Budget 2017, rising to €50 million in 2018”.

At the launch the Minister said: “Ten days ago I was very pleased to announce that the HSE had achieved the target set in its 2016 Waiting List Action Plan and had reduced by half the number of patients waiting longer than 18 months for inpatient treatment or day case procedures.

“The figures published on 9th January by the NTPF showed that the overall Inpatient/Daycase and the Outpatient waiting lists both decreased since November. In addition, since I approved the HSE Waiting List Action Plan last August, 11,519 patients came off the Inpatient/Daycase waiting list, leading to fewer than 1,800 people waiting over 18 months for treatment. The actual number of people waiting for procedures at the end of December was 1,738.

“The NTPF Endoscopy Initiative for 2016 was also extremely successful with only 11 patients now waiting for their procedure for over 12 months at the end of the December, while over 5,500 people have come off the list since June. This represents a very welcome 99.4% reduction in the number of patients waiting over 12 months for a routine endoscopy.

“I am determined to build on the reduction in the number of long-waiting patients achieved by the HSE as part of its Waiting List Action Plan 2016 and by the NTPF in its Endoscopy Initiative, so that during 2017 we will see our longest-waiting patients receiving the care that they need.

“In December, I granted approval to the NTPF for the first €5 million for an initiative focused on daycase procedures, which account for approximately 70% of the Inpatient/Daycase Waiting List. Under this initiative, the NTPF estimates that around 3,000 patients waiting 18 months or more for daycase procedures will be treated, with the aim that no patient will be waiting more than 18 months for daycase treatment by 30 June 2017. This Initiative will initially focus on key specialties with high numbers of long-waiting patients, including in Ophthalmology, General Surgery, Dental, Urology and Vascular surgery.

“My plan for 2017, which involves close collaboration between the NTPF, the HSE and the Department includes:

1. Firstly the NTPF allocation for 2017 will utilise capacity in the private acute hospital sector to provide treatment for our longest waiting patient on the Inpatient/Daycase waiting list;
2. Secondly the HSE will submit their 2017 Action Plan for Waiting Lists for the public acute hospital sector for inpatients and daycases and outpatients;
3. Thirdly, during 2017 the HSE and the NTPF will work strategically and collaboratively to ensure the best use of public and private hospital capacity to reduce patients’ waiting times.

“I also welcome the launch today of the Inpatient, Day Case, Planned Procedure Protocol for Waiting List Management. This Protocol has great potential to ensure that there is a consistent and standardised approach to the management and scheduling of patients on waiting lists across all hospitals.”

At the event, winners of the NTPF DATA Quality Awards for 2016 were also announced. The Minister commended all those hospitals and their staff members who have achieved compliance with the NTPF Data Quality Standards: “I would like to congratulate the teams at those hospitals for their effort and commitment to improving how waiting lists are managed for the benefit of patients.”


Read the Minister’s speech at the event here

Note to Editors

The NTPF will also be putting procedures in place to ensure that patients currently experiencing long waiting times will be able to contact a named person to discuss their care, firstly in the referring and then in the treating hospital.