Tuesday, 3 July 2018
With regard to the Deputy's last question, I am told that an executive director is about to be appointed after a long recruitment process. This is a new departure. It has taken time to get it right. We are focused on trying to get the right person and putting the right structures around that person to make sure that an executive director can deliver on the potential and ambition of the Sláintecare report.
Waiting times are too long.
That is why reducing waiting times for patients for hospital operations and procedures continues to be a key priority for the Government. A total of €50 million was provided to the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, in 2018 to secure treatments for patients. On 12 April, the Minister for Health published a joint action plan between the HSE and the NTPF to reduce the number of patients waiting for treatment. Under the action plan, the number of patients waiting longer than nine months will fall by 10,000. The NTPF commits to offer treatment to all suitable clinical patients waiting more than nine months for treatment in a number of high-volume specialties, including cataract, hip and knee replacements, tonsils and scopes. The overall number of patients waiting for hospital operations and procedures is targeted to fall below 70,000 by the end of the year. Under the action plan the NTPF will work with both public and private hospitals to access treatment for those patients.
The May waiting list figures show that 78,500 patients were waiting for an inpatient or day case procedure, which is down marginally by 800 on the previous year, but down by almost 7,200 when comparing the year-on-year figures. The number of patients waiting longer than nine months for an inpatient or day procedure is now down 5,800 in comparison with May 2017. I am not saying that makes it acceptable - it is far from it - but what I am saying is that we are making some progress. Tackling the situation will require a combination of more staff, which is happening, more hospital beds, which is happening, and more reform consistent with the Sláintecare report, which is supported by all parties in this House. Very soon we will have a director to take charge of Sláintecare and over time we will see the continued commitment of the Government to bring down waiting lists across the multiple sectors the Deputy raised.