In welcoming the report from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), HSE CEO Professor Brendan Drumm said the reduction in the numberswaiting over 12 months for care reflects the commitment of staff across the country to improving services and he expected further progress next year.
"Every year we provide day case and inpatient care to more than 1.2 million people and the overall waiting times for this care is going down."
While on average 23,000 patients a week receive day and inpatient care through the HSE and the overall numbers waiting represent less than an average week's throughput, our primary emphasis is on reducing the length of time a patient must wait to have their procedure completed. 70% of the in-patient waiting list relates to six specialities which are areas of high demand for elective treatment.
A series of major initiatives are underway to reduce waiting times further during the next 12 months. Hospitals with waiting times of over 12 months have been instructed to refer patients on to the NTPF for treatment and they are following this instruction. As soon as a patient is waiting over three months to undergo colonoscopy procedures, their hospital has been instructed to refer the patient immediately to the NTPF for treatment.
The HSE's National Hospitals Office (NHO) has been proactive in identifying suitable patients from their inpatient waiting list for NTPF referral treatment. In addition inpatient waiting lists are going down as a result of a number of measures which include; additional consultant appointments and the expansion of services including day surgery.
It should also be noted that referral to the NTPF is sometimes not a suitable option for certain patients. In some cases patients are unable to be referred due to the complexity of the treatment they need. In some other instances patients have been offered treatment but have decided to remain under the care of their own consultant. For example, of patients waiting over 12 months in Beaumont, over 60% of these patients are waiting for neurological treatments which are not available in other hospitals and in St. Vincent’s 60% of long waiters are related to specialised treatments (pain relief, sleep clinics).
The HSE's integrated programme, committing more resources to treating patients in the community through the growing numbers of Primary Care Teams, comprising GPs, community nurses, physiotherapists, social workers and home helps, will further reduce hospital waiting times.
Last updated on: 12 / 12 / 2008