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Have you been on a hospital waiting list for six months? Here are the government's latest plans

Minister for Health Simon Harris has published a new plan aimed at reducing waiting times for patients.

Image: Shutterstock/Andrei_R

PATIENTS WAITING MORE than six months for some high volume procedures, including cataracts, joint replacements, tonsils and angiograms will be offered treatment this year, the Department of Health has said. 

Minister for Health Simon Harris has published a new plan – the Scheduled Care Access Plan 2019 – aimed at reducing waiting times for patients. 

The plan aims to improve access for patients waiting for hospital operations or procedures, as well as patients waiting for a first outpatient appointment. 

In 2019, the HSE will deliver 1.155 million elective hospital procedures and over one million new outpatient appointments, according to the Department of Health. 

It added that the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) will deliver 25,000 inpatient day case treatments, 5,000 gastrointestinal scopes and 40,000 first outpatient appointments.

Under the plans, a particular focus will be put on 10 high volume procedures including cataracts, joint replacements, varicose veins, tonsillectomies, cystoscopies, angiograms, lesions, laparoscopic cholecystectomies, septoplasties, and dental/maxillofacial surgery.

The Department said that all clinically suitable patients waiting more than six months will be offered treatment in 2019. 

The number of people waiting for a hospital procedure was reduced to 70,200 by the end of 2018, from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017. 

At the end of December 2018, the number of patients waiting longer than three months had dropped to 40,200 from just under 58,000 in July 2017, a decrease of 31%.

“However, it must be acknowledged that due to a number of factors, planned activity for January and February this year is behind target and waiting lists are higher than projected in the plan,” Minister Harris said. 

“The challenge now will be to catch up on lost activity and meet the targets set out in the plan. The HSE and the NTPF are fully committed to meeting these targets and I look forward to progress in this regard. Irish patients want and deserve timely access to hospital procedures and appointments.”

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