Thursday, 2 December 2021
Department of Health
202. To ask the Minister for Health the status of the case of a child (details supplied); the steps he will take to provide a solution to the issues in relation to the treatment of children with spina bifida and or hydrocephalus; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [59607/21]
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.
Children’s Health Ireland continues 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 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.
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 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.
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 regarding a date for a procedure for the person concerned, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the deputy directly, as soon as possible.