Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Health

Hospital Waiting Lists

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-Galway, Independent)
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19. To ask the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to address delays in diagnostic tests in the health system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11380/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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It is Government policy to ensure that all citizens get rapid access to the health care they need and reduction of all waiting list is my number one priority.

Budget 2021 allocated €25million to implement an expanded programme of structured direct referrals to diagnostics services by GPs, and the GP Access to Diagnostics programme was launched in January 2021.

The HSE advises that over 138,000 radiology tests of various types were completed through this initiative in 2021.

Funding was secured to allow the continuation of this important initiative in 2022, with a target of 195,000 diagnostic tests to be provided this year. The HSE advises that over 45,300 scans have been completed to date in 2022. The HSE also has in place a procurement framework specifically for diagnostics.

Funding of €5 million was allocated under the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan to secure an additional 30,000 acute diagnostics appointments. Up to March 25ththe NTPF funded 9,157 such diagnostics procedures. This is ahead of target, so at yesterdays meeting of the Waiting List Task Force I asked them to examine if more ambitious targets could be set for this year.

Under a pilot project the HSE currently collect data in respect of CT MRI and Ultrasound. The information that is collected is being tested and validated at hospital, hospital group and national level. The Deputy should be aware that the number currently reported (226,966 in Q4 2021) includes routine and planned/surveillance patients and is not reflective of the actual number of patients waiting. Work is ongoing to disaggregate this data, so that an accurate reflection of patients actually waiting for an initial diagnostic text can be reported.

As part of the longer-term reform actions, a programme of work is due to commence, to deliver full waiting list data collection for all radiology diagnostics.


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