Tuesday, 27 July 2021
Department of Health
It is recognised that waiting times for scheduled appointments and procedures have been impacted in the last sixteen months as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently as a result of the ransomware attack.
While significant progress was made in reducing waiting times from June 2020 onwards, the surge in Covid-19 cases in the first quarter of 2021, and the resultant curtailment of acute hospital services, is reflected in the most recently available waiting list figures to 13thMay 2021.
On 23 March 2021 the HSE published the “Safe Return to Health Services Plan”, outlining a three phased approach 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. However, the implementation of this plan was suspended pending the resolution of the recent ransomware attack, which had a significant impact on acute hospitals.
The HSE has been working since 14thMay last to recover the effects of the cyber attack on its systems. The HSE advise that at present most systems are operational and services are returning to normal activity. There is a challenge in back entering data and there are still a number of areas of ongoing concern. The HSE was already seeking to recover from the Covid peak in the first quarter of this year and the ransomware attack has delayed this and had the effect of increasing access delays for services. My Department does not have full access to information on the impact of this ransomware attack on elective waiting lists but will provide an update as soon as one is available.
An additional €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 (NTPF). This is to be used to fund additional capacity to address the shortfall arising as a result of infection control measures taken in the context of COVID-19, as well as addressing backlogs in waiting lists.
My Department, the HSE and the NTPF are currently working on a Multiannual Waiting List Plan to address waiting lists and bring them in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years.
Due to the ongoing IT issues triggered by the HSE cyber-attack, the NTPF has been unable to receive weekly national hospital waiting list data or downloads. The latest published waiting list information was collated by the NTPF on 13th May 2021.
The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the attached document which provides a breakdown of the number of children waiting to have a tonsillectomy at a Dublin Hospital by time band at 13 May 2021.
|Inpatient/ Day Case Waiting list for Children awaiting Tonsillectomies in Dublin Hospitals as of 13/5/2021|
|Sum of Amount||Column Labels|
|Row Labels||0-6 Months||6-12 Months||12-18 Months||18+ Months||Small Volume TimeBands||Grand Total|
|Children's Health Ireland||95||134||49||72||350|
|Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital||5||8||13|