Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Department of Health
145. To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which he has sought or received confirmation from the HSE in regard to the optimum in terms of resources and facilities required to prevent overcrowding at accident and emergency departments at various general hospitals and waiting lists for various procedures; if comparisons continue to be made with best practice in other jurisdictions, with a view to identifying the most appropriate structures for Ireland; if he has had discussions with the various hospital and community care authorities, including private hospitals, to achieve the necessary results; the role he envisages for primary care centres in the delivery of acute services in this context; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4637/17]
In order to respond to increasing demand for hospital services, Budget 2017 provides an additional €118 million for hospital services in 2017.
Of this funding, €109m will be used to maintain our existing level of service to take into account the costs associated with: our aging demographics; meeting increased demand for medicines, medical technology and procedures in hospitals. This funding will also provide for the costs associated with the restoration of payments to staff under the Lansdowne Road Agreement. In addition, €9m has been allocated to expand existing, or develop new acute hospital services in 2017.
The 2017 National Service Plan emphasises the HSE's need during 2017 to continue to pursue increased efficiency, value for money and budgetary control in delivering safe and effective healthcare services within its budget allocation.
My Department continues to engage with a wide range of stakeholders including the HSE, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), Hospital Groups, Community Health Organisations, both public and private hospitals, and healthcare professionals on a range of issues regarding the provision safe and clinically appropriate unscheduled and scheduled care services to patients in acute hospitals.
As part of measures to alleviate winter pressures on Emergency Departments, this Government approved the allocation of €40m of additional funding for a Winter Initiative in 2016 - 2017. So far, the Initiative has delivered 75 newly-opened additional beds in the Mercy University Hospital Cork, University Hospital Galway, the Mater, Beaumont and Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar. Also, as of 24 January, delayed discharges have reduced nationally to 469, freeing up hospitals beds to alleviate ED pressures. In addition under the Initiative, since October: over 3,900 patients have availed of aids and appliances; over 780 additional homecare packages and 410 additional transitional care beds have been provided, enabling patients to be discharged from hospital sooner.
With regard to reducing waiting times for elective care, Budget 2017 allocated €20 million to the NTPF, rising to €55 million in 2018. 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.
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.
Along with my Department, I meet every week with senior officials from the HSE, including the Director General, to monitor progress on the Winter Initiative and ED performance, as well as waiting list performance.