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Minister for Health welcomes fall in waiting lists in 2018 and prioritises further actions in 2019 to improve access for patients

Minister for Health Simon Harris has today welcomed the publication of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) waiting list numbers.

The figures show that the number of patients waiting for an inpatient or day case hospital procedure at the end of December was just over 70,200.

While acknowledging there is significant work to be done, Minister Harris welcomed the improvements achieved in 2018.

Mr Harris said:

Improving access for patients is a key priority and today’s publication highlights the continued progress that is being made by the HSE and the NTPF in delivering on this priority.

I am delighted to see the improvements to the Inpatient Daycase waiting list which has reduced to almost 70,000. This was an ambitious target of the Inpatient Daycase Action Plan 2018 and which was achieved as a result of the immense efforts and the considerable collaboration of the HSE and the NTPF.

As a result of this increased activity and the ongoing collaboration between the HSE and NTPF, the number of patients waiting for an Inpatient or Day case procedure has fallen to 70,204, from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017. This represents a reduction of over 18% in the overall number of patients waiting for a procedure.

Last year saw considerable improvements to the number of patients waiting over 9 months which has almost halved since July 2017 from 28,100 to 14,900. The impact is particularly notable when one considers the improvements to the Waiting Lists for those particular specialties which were the focus of the Inpatient/Daycase Action Plan in 2018. These include the numbers waiting over 9 months for a Cataract procedure which have fallen by 87% since July 2017; the numbers waiting 9 months for a tonsillectomy have fallen by 84% in the same period; and angiograms have fallen by 88%.

The figures also show that significant progress is being made in meeting the Sláintecare recommendation that patients should wait no longer than 12 weeks for an inpatient procedure. Since July 2017 the number of patients waiting longer than 3 months has fallen from just under 58,000 to 40,200 a fall of 31% and are now at their lowest level since 2014.”
The outpatient waiting list remains a significant challenge, and while still too high at over 516,000, 2018 performance has seen some stability with a year-on-year increase of 3%. A key priority for 2019 is to build on this stability and put an increased focus towards improving access to outpatient services for patients.

Minister Harris concluded:

Improving access remains a priority in 2019 and the Government has further increased investment in this area with NTPF funding increasing from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million this year.

The number of patients waiting longer than 9 months for an Inpatient/Day case procedure has fallen by 11% since last month, the number waiting longer than 9 months for a GI Scope procedure has increased by 8.4%, while the number of patients waiting longer than 9 months for a first outpatient appointment has increased by 0.1%.

Note to Editors:

Pre-Admit, Planned Procedures and Suspensions lists

The NTPF waiting list data also reports data on the Pre-Admit, Planned Procedures and Suspensions lists.
Just over 25,000 patients who have a scheduled date for their admission are categorised as "TCI" or "To Come In"
14,027 patients are temporarily suspended from the waiting list. These are patients who, for clinical, personal or social reasons, are not ready to proceed with their care and/or treatment may be temporarily suspended on the waiting list. The Suspension category is also used where patients are being processed through various Insourcing or Outsourcing Initiatives.
Over 73,300 patients are on the Planned Procedure list and 49,691 of these patients have indicative dates in the future. This category comprises those patients who have had treatment and require additional treatment at a future date (e.g. a patient who has had a scope may require surveillance monitoring scopes in the future). Patients on the Planned Procedure list are assigned indicative dates for treatment. These indicative dates are determined by the clinician and treatment before these dates would not be appropriate.

Appendix 1: Inpatient/Day case Action Plan –
The NTPF has placed an emphasis on reducing waiting times for patients for cataracts, hip and knee replacement or one of the other 7 high volume procedures (Varicose Veins, Tonsillectomies, Cystoscopies, Coronary Angiograms, Excision of Lesions). As a result, since July 2017 the total number of patients waiting longer than the Sláintecare threshold for one of these procedures has more than halved from 25,651 to 11,959. 

*Source: NTPF data provided to the Department