Seanad debates

Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Nithe i dtosach suíonna - Commencement Matters

Disability Services

1:00 pm

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Senator for that. The NTPF is tasked primarily with reducing waiting times for inpatient day-case treatment. As part of my role as the Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for mental health and older people, we looked at this specifically in relation to mental health to see whether it could work for us. What we are learning is it would be very cumbersome to try to work it out. It works really well for somebody who is waiting 11 months to have his or her hip done. That person goes under the NTPF and the hip is done. It is in and out and more than likely people will be well looked after and will have a good recovery. It works really well for cataracts and things like that. We looked at it specifically with respect to children waiting for access to the child and adolescent mental health services, CAMHS, and to primary care psychology to see whether it would work for us. The challenges are that no one case is the same, whereas with a cataract or other eye operation it is quite different. No one case is the same and we would not know whether we would be asking for eight, ten or 12 appointments. I am sure there are always ways around it. We explored it in my unit to see whether we could make it work for us. The avenue we went down instead was to secure funding from the Minister, Deputy Donnelly, to have targeted waiting list initiatives. We now have six CHOs across the country with waiting list initiatives for CAMHS and we also did it in primary care psychology, because we found that by the time we would have this over the line it was difficult.

I will bring the Senator's thoughts on this back to the Minister of State, Deputy Rabbitte. We always have to try to think outside the box to see what we can do.


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