Thursday, 10 December 2020
Department of Health
It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer most scheduled care activity in March, April, and May of this year. 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 the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) in accordance with the advice of the World Health Organisation.
Scheduled care activity was significantly impacted by this necessary decision with most routine elective care appointments and procedures deferred between March and May. As a result of the significant disruption in services, hospital waiting lists reached a peak in May. The resumption of services from June onwards has however allowed for increased activity.
Patient safety remains at the centre of all hospital activity and elective care scheduling. To ensure services are provided in a safe, clinically-aligned and prioritised way, hospitals are following HSE clinical guidelines and protocols.
It is the responsibility of the treating Consultant to clinically prioritise patients on the waiting list.
In addition, the National Waiting List Management Policy is a standardised approach used by the HSE to manage scheduled care treatment for in-patient, day case and planned procedures. It sets out the processes that hospitals are to implement to manage waiting lists and was developed in 2014 to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care.
Under the Health Act 2004, the Health Service Executive (HSE) is required to manage and deliver, or arrange to be delivered on its behalf, health and personal social services. Section 6 of the HSE Governance Act 2013 bars the Minister for Health from directing the HSE to provide a treatment or a personal service to any individual or to confer eligibility on any individual.
In relation to the particular query raised, as advised by the HSE in previous correspondence, if the patient's condition has deteriorated since their last referral, their GP should to forward an updated referral for the attention of their Consultant.