Written answers

Thursday, 12 May 2022

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)
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308. To ask the Minister for Health if discussions are expected to allow medical card patients waiting on cataract surgery who chose to go private with a local surgeon to be able to avail of reimbursement from the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23884/22]

Photo of Stephen DonnellyStephen Donnelly (Wicklow, Fianna Fail)
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The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides for two categories of eligibility for persons ordinarily resident in the country, i.e. full eligibility (medical card holders) and limited eligibility (all others). Adults with full eligibility can access a range of services including GP services, prescribed drugs and medicines, all in-patient public hospital services in public wards, including consultants’ services, all out-patient public hospital services including consultants’ services, dental, ophthalmic and aural services and appliances, and maternity and infant care service.

Persons with limited eligibility are eligible for in-patient and outpatient public hospital services including Consultant services, Emergency Department or minor injury care, are subject to certain charges. Other services such as allied healthcare professional services may also be made available to persons with limited eligibility. Where a person accesses private healthcare in Ireland there is no facility for the cost of that care to be reimbursed by the public health system.

Regarding cataract waiting lists, the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan was launched on 25 February this year. The Plan allocates €350 million to the HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to reduce waiting lists by 18 percent this year which will bring the number of people waiting to their lowest point in five years. Public hospitals will be supported by the NTPF in a number of different ways, including funding the operation of cataract clinics in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and in Nenagh General Hospital. While the NTPF will seek to arrange over 150 different types of procedures in public and private hospitals, covering the full range of complexity on the waiting lists, there will be a particular focus on 15 procedures which, prior to NTPF engagement, accounted for more than 50% of the inpatient/day case waiting list. For the 15 high volume procedures, including cataracts, the NTPF will offer treatment for all clinically suitable patients waiting more than 6 months.

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