Written answers

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

Department of Health

Hospital Waiting Lists

Photo of Ruairi Ó MurchúRuairi Ó Murchú (Louth, Sinn Fein)
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196. To ask the Minister for Health the current waiting lists for paediatric orthopaedic care by CHO; the plans in place to tackle these extensive waiting list; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59316/21]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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I acknowledge that waiting times for many hospital procedures and appointments are unacceptably long. It is of particular regret that children can experience long waiting times for orthopaedic treatment, especially for time sensitive procedures, and I remain acutely aware of the impact that this has on children and their families. I remain committed to working to reduce waiting times for patients and bring them in line with Sláintecare targets.

Children with a range of needs rely on the orthopaedic service of Children’s Health Ireland, for example children with Spina Bifida, hip deformity, and other orthopaedic needs. Scoliosis activity accounts for approximately 17% of inpatient orthopaedic activity. The complex patient needs of these children remains at the forefront of service provision.

My Department has been working with the HSE and Children’s Health Ireland to deliver improved paediatric orthopaedic services. In 2018 Children’s Health Ireland was provided with an additional €9 million in funding to address paediatric orthopaedic waiting lists, including the provision of scoliosis services. This funding is recurring and has been provided in the base HSE allocation each year since 2018. The additional funding supported the recruitment of approximately 60 WTEs in 2018 and 2019 to enable the expansion of paediatric orthopaedic services. The posts relate to the multi-disciplinary team at diagnosis, pre-assessment, during surgery in theatre, and post operatively.

Children’s Health Ireland continue to examine new and innovative ways to improve access to orthopaedic services. “Cappagh Kids” at the National Orthopaedic Hospital at Cappagh provides additional theatre capacity for non-complex, age appropriate, orthopaedic procedures, freeing up much needed space at central CHI sites for children with complex, multi-disciplinary needs. Additional orthopaedic outpatient sessions are also now held at Cappagh, providing additional capacity to see and assess children on the outpatient waiting list.

In addition, a new fast-track orthopaedic pathway has been developed as part of outpatient reduction plans. Paediatric Active Clinical Triage has already been introduced for the longest waiters (over 12 months) on the paediatric outpatient list. This has reduced the number of long waiters from 987 to 403 since it started in October 2020.

Improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures remains a commitment of this Government. For 2022 an additional allocation of €250 million, comprised of €200 million to the HSE and €50 million to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has been provided in respect of work to reduce hospital and community waiting lists. The €250 million will be used to fund additional activity in both the public and private sectors. The €50 million additional funding provided to the NTPF brings its total allocation for 2022 to €150 million, and as a consequence there will be a budget of €350 million available to support vital initiatives to improve access to acute hospitals and community health services.

In addition, my Department, the HSE and the NTPF are also working on a Multi Annual Waiting List Plan to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets over the coming years. This process will be overseen by a Ministerial Taskforce, chaired by the Secretary General of my Department and includes representatives from the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund. The plan will be informed by the lessons learned from the successful Vaccine Taskforce.

The information requested by the Deputy is outlined in the attached document. The information set out in the document shows the number of children on Outpatient and Inpatient waiting lists for orthopaedic treatment by hospital group at the end of October 2021. This information is also available on the NTPF website at: www.ntpf.ie/home/nwld.htm

Statistical Disclosure Control (SDC) techniques have been applied to the data to preserve confidentiality and mitigate against identification or self-identification of individuals. In cases where there are less than 5 people in any particular cell, we have replaced that value with the average (mean) of all values that are less than 5 across that category. Any decimal values which arise have then been rounded. This may cause some rounding to occur when calculating sub-totals. Where there are <20 patients waiting in a particular specialty/hospital, we have aggregated the numbers under a ‘Small Volume’ heading.
Children on Outpatient WL for Orthopaedics at end October 2021
- 0-6Months 6-12Months 12-18Months 18+Months Grand Total
Children's Health Ireland 1483 874 522 903 3,782
Saolta 369 280 169 339 1,157
University of Limerick 119 44 49 12 224
Ireland East 139 64 18 12 233
RCSI 113 62 31 17 223
Dublin Midlands 78 62 42 66 248
SSWHG 615 172 92 79 958
Total 2916 1558 923 1428 6825
Children on Inpatient/Daycase WL for Orthopaedics at end October 2021
0-6Months 6-12Months 12-18Months 18+Months Grand Total
Children's Helath Ireland 459 260 132 348 1,199
Saolta 25 13 11 15 64
Ireland East 164 30 13 22 229
Small Vol HG 51 14 4 4 72
Total 699 317 160 389 1564


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