Written answers

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

Department of Health

Hospital Waiting Lists

Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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329. To ask the Minister for Health the number of persons awaiting a colonoscopy in the Mercy Hospital; the number waiting up to 30 days, 30 to 60 days, 60 to 90 days and more than 90 days, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19469/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to pause most elective scheduled care activity with effect from the end March 2020. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, and the National Action Plan.

The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. NPHET has since revised its recommendation on the pausing of all non-essential health services, with a recommendation that the delivery of acute care be determined by appropriate clinical and operational decision making.

Application of the essential risk mitigating steps set out in the guidance developed under the auspices of the NPHET Expert Advisory group will have operational implications, which will impact on throughput. 

Where possible, hospitals are working to find innovative ways to enable service provision, which include virtual clinics for some outpatient department appointments. The HSE website provides details on services currently available and operational in each hospital on its website. This information is reviewed frequently and provides up-to-date announcements on services available at each site (www2.hse.ie/services/hospital-service-disruptions/hospital-service-disruptions-covid19.html).

To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, the HSE launched its Strategic Framework for ‘Service Continuity in a Covid Environment’ on 24 June.  Its implementation will ensure service resumption is done in an integrated way. This will involve a phased approach to ensure community services are strengthened. The Framework will also consolidate new ways of working and build on international knowledge. Further detail regarding the phases of service resumption are contained in the HSE’s ‘A Safe Return to Health Services’ document, published on their website on 22 July.

As the system continues to deliver Covid-19 and non-Covid 19 care side-by-side over a more prolonged period, my Department and the HSE will continue to work closely together to protect essential non-Covid 19 acute care and progress the provision of more routine non Covid-19 care.

In relation to the particular query raised by the Deputy concerning colonoscopies, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Thomas Gould (Cork North Central, Sinn Fein)
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330. To ask the Minister for Health the number of persons awaiting an endoscopy in the Mercy Hospital; the number waiting up to 30 days, 30 to 60 days, 60 to 90 days and more than 90 days, in tabular form; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19470/20]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
Link to this: Individually | In context | Oireachtas source

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to pause most elective scheduled care activity with effect from the end March 2020. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the advice issued by National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) and in accordance with World Health Organisation guidelines, and the National Action Plan.

The trajectory of the disease means there is now an opportunity for increasing the provision of non-covid care including more routine care. NPHET has since revised its recommendation on the pausing of all non-essential health services, with a recommendation that the delivery of acute care be determined by appropriate clinical and operational decision making.

Application of the essential risk mitigating steps set out in the guidance developed under the auspices of the NPHET Expert Advisory group will have operational implications, which will impact on throughput. 

Where possible, hospitals are working to find innovative ways to enable service provision, which include virtual clinics for some outpatient department appointments. The HSE website provides details on services currently available and operational in each hospital on its website. This information is reviewed frequently and provides up-to-date announcements on services available at each site ().

To ensure services are re-introduced in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, the HSE launched its Strategic Framework for ‘Service Continuity in a Covid Environment’ on 24 June.  Its implementation will ensure service resumption is done in an integrated way. This will involve a phased approach to ensure community services are strengthened. The Framework will also consolidate new ways of working and build on international knowledge. In addition, the HSE published 'A Safe Return to Health Services' last week, which is a Service Continuity Roadmap for the resumption of services across the health system. 

As the system continues to deliver Covid-19 and non-Covid 19 care side-by-side over a more prolonged period, my Department and the HSE will continue to work closely together to protect essential non-Covid 19 acute care and progress the provision of more routine non Covid-19 care.

In relation to endoscopy services, a national programme was established in mid-2016 to coordinate several activities to improve endoscopy services. The Endoscopy Programme is housed within the Acute Operations Division of the HSE and the programme is overseen by the National Endoscopy Steering Group. The programme team consists of a Clinical Lead, Training Lead, Nurse Lead and Programme Manager. The team are supported by the National Endoscopy Working Group.

The aim of the programme is to improve the delivery of endoscopy services across all Hospital Groups.

The Endoscopy data requested by the Deputy is outlined in the following table.

Mercy University Hospital GI Scopes Waiting List June 2020
0-1 Mth 85
1-2 Mths 44
2 Mths- 3 Mths 40
+3 Mths 481
Total  650

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