Press Release

Update on waiting list plans and response to RTE Investigates from Minister Simon Harris

Last night Minister Harris outlined clearly how he felt the RTE Investigates programme on waiting lists made him “feel ashamed and heartbroken”.

Today the Minister met with the HSE, the NTPF, senior officials in the Department of Health and with both the CEO of Crumlin Childrens’ Hospital and the CEO of the Childrens’ Hospital Group.

Speaking after his day of intensive meetings, Minister Harris outlined the actions being taken on waiting lists;

  • Additional theatre capacity will be provided for scoliosis procedures in Crumlin Childrens’ Hospital from April, as new theatre opens
  • An orthopaedic post in Crumlin Hospital will be filled by June
  • An Action Plan for Scoliosis will be presented to the Minister by the HSE by the end of February
  • The NTPF, at the Minister’s request, will now audit the practices in each of the hospitals highlighted by the individual cases featured in the programme last night and will report to the Minister.
  • The NTPF has informed the Minister that the way it classifies its waiting lists has been the same since its inception in 2002 and follows international best practice. However, it has already commenced a review of international best practice on waiting list data publication models.
  • The €5 million provided by the Minister to the NTPF will see over 2,000 day case procedures undertaken and these procedures will start in March.
  • The HSE and the NTPF will work together to utilise capacity in both the public and private sector. Working with the NTPF, the HSE will present an Action Plan on Waiting Lists by the end of the month. This plan will concentrate on reducing the length of time patients wait for an inpatient, day case or outpatient appointment, with the aim of no patient waiting longer than 15 months by the end of October. Whilst the Minister considers this is still too long, it would mark a significant reduction in waiting times with an aim of reducing waiting lists further in the next plan.
  • Budget 2017 makes provision for the treatment of long-waiting patients. €20 million has been allocated to the NTPF rising to €55 million in 2018.

The Minister for Health also said, “I am well aware that if we are to break the vicious cycle of both overcrowding and long waiting lists in our hospitals, we need to put in place fundamental building blocks for our health service. This involves the following 4 steps:

  1. a 10 year cross-party plan for the health service which is due to be received in April,
  2. more bed capacity and work is underway on a bed capacity review so we can clearly identify the needs in advance of the Government’s mid-term capital review,
  3. additional recruitment and retention of nursing staff so we can open closed beds for which we have a funded plan to hire 1,000 new nurses this year and
  4. a new GP contract so we can do more in primary care including minor surgical procedures. Discussions on this new contract are now underway.”