Written answers

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Department of Health

Hospital Waiting Lists

Photo of Eoin Ó BroinEoin Ó Broin (Dublin Mid West, Sinn Fein)
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297. To ask the Minister for Health the reason 3,054 women are waiting for gynaecological care at Tallaght Hospital and 1,452 women are waiting over 18 months; and the steps he plans to take to ensure the hospital has a full complement of staff of address the large waiting list. [17671/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last year as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The HSE is currently recommending that only critical time dependent elective procedures are undertaken at this time due to the on-going and significant increased demand for bed capacity related to COVID-19.

This decision was made arising from the rapid increase in Covid-19 admissions and to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for Covid-19 related activity and time-critical essential work.

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. The HSE continues to optimise productivity through alternative work practices such as the use of alternative settings including private hospitals, community facilities and alternative outpatient settings.

On 23 March the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”. This plan outlines a three phased plan for the proposed restoration of services across Community Services, Acute Hospital Operations, Cancer Services and Screening Services. It sets target times for their safe return and details the conditions and challenges that will have to be met.

Every phase of the plan has been informed by clinical guidance and putting patient and staff safety first.

Decisions in relation to the type and volume of activity will be made at site level based on local COVID-19 numbers, available capacity and guidance from national clinical leads.

The schedule outlined in the plan for resumption of services will be regularly monitored by the HSE and updated as appropriate, dependant on public health advice and healthcare capacity.

The work of the HSE to improve access to elective care and reduce waiting times for patients is supported by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). This includes increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding “see and treat” services where minor procedures are provided at the same time as outpatient consultations, funding hybrid services where public and private hospitals contribute to the treatment of patients, virtual clinics and clinical validation.

The NTPF have advised that they have provided funding for a number of Insourcing initiatives to reduce Gynaecology waiting lists at Tallaght University Hospital in 2020. As a result, 475 patients have to date received treatment through HSE insourcing initiatives. Details of these initiatives are outlined in the attached document.

€240 million has been provided in Budget 2021 for an access to care fund, €210m of which has been allocated to the HSE and a further €30m to the National Treatment Purchase Fund. This will be used to fund additional capacity to address the shortfall arising as a result of measures taken in the context of COVID-19, as well as to address waiting lists.

In relation to the particular query raised regarding the steps/plans to take to ensure the hospital has a full complement of staff to address the large waiting list, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.

Approved Outpatient (OPD) NTPF initiatives for Gynaecology for 2020 and to date 2021 for Tallaght University Hospital

NTPF Insourcing Approved OPD Gynaecology Initatives Tallaght University Hospital as at 26/03/2021

Specialty Initiative Type Volume Notes
Gynaecology OPD 100 Nurse-led clinic
Gynaecology OPD 125 GP-led clinic
Gynaecology OPD 250 Physio-led clinic
Total 475


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