Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Department of Health
Hospital Waiting Lists
102. To ask the Minister for Health the waiting list initiatives he is progressing; the status of further work currently being done by eHealth Ireland in relation to waiting lists; the projects being proposed and the funding required for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4553/17]
Reducing waiting times for the longest waiting patients is one of this Government's key priorities. Consequently, Budget 2017 allocated €20 million to the NTPF, rising to €55 million in 2018.
All NTPF initiatives include procedures to report on the type, nature and cost of treatments commissioned, including controls to ensure quality patient treatment, value for money and efficient processes. My Department will also implement a robust monitoring framework in this regard.
In December 2016, I granted approval to the NTPF to dedicate €5m to a daycase waiting list initiative with the aim of ensuring that no patient will be waiting more than 18 months for a daycase procedure by 30 June 2017. Around 3,000 daycases will be managed through this process and outsourcing of treatment will commence shortly.
In addition to this day case initiative, the NTPF will be working closely with my Department and the HSE to agree an approach to the remaining 2017 allocation as well as planning the approach for the significant increase in the allocation to address long waiting in 2018.
The HSE is currently developing a 2017 Waiting List Action Plan for inpatient/daycase procedures to ensure that no patient is waiting more than 15 months by the end of October. This Plan is being developed in conjunction with the NTPF's proposal for utilisation of its remaining €10m funding for patient treatment in 2017. A similar plan is being developed for outpatient appointments. I expect to make known the details of both plans in the coming weeks.
In August, following a briefing on electronic referrals, I tasked the HSE's Chief Information Officer with producing a report into how digital solutions could change the way in which waiting lists are managed.
The HSE has responded providing my Department with a detailed set of options that could be explored. This response on the digital challenge for waiting lists includes an overview of innovations and suggested approaches from over 49 suppliers, some of which have deployed successfully in other countries. The HSE has also reviewed a number of international models which will continue to be sources of information and guidance to ensure the project is well designed and delivered. The HSE has been advised to progress this issue during 2017, in conjunction with relevant business units.
The HSE is of the view that significant progress could be achieved from investing around €1.0m in technology supports. Exact expenditure would only be known following clarity on requirements, developing a business case and following the necessary public procurements.
The success of any digital solutions is predicated on high quality data flowing through the health system. The completion of the national rollout of electronic referrals (eReferrals) and its continued growth, will provide a solid data source and foundation for managing the waiting lists at individual hospital level. Also, the rollout of the Individual Health Identifier (IHI) commencing in 2017, will be important in facilitating the management of national or hospital group waiting lists, as the IHI will support the identification of patients who may be on several waiting lists for the same condition.