Big drop in 12 month waiting lists
A new initiative has led to a major reduction in the number of patients waiting for planned hospital treatment for 12 months or over, according to the Department of Health.
The initiative by Health Minister James Reilly's Special Delivery Unit (SDU) has seen the numbers waiting 12 months or more for a hospital procedure drop from around 3,500 at the end of September to only 629 at the end of last week, according to the latest HSE figures provided by the Department.
Dr Reilly announced in July that under his initiative the target was by the end of December to have no patient waiting longer than 12 months for a hospital procedure. Where hospitals failed to provide treatment for these long waiters, the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) would source the necessary treatments and the hospitals’ budgets will be reduced by a corresponding amount in 2012.
The Department said the treatment waiting lsits had been validated to ensure there was no duplication of patients on the lists.
In addition, according to the Department, 'consistent interaction' with the hospitals has been employed 'to make sure that the relevant energy was brought to bear on reducing the lists.'
The initiative has led to the creation of two separate methods of calclating waiting lists, which has recently caused some confusion.
The HSE publishes waiting lists based on how many people have been waiting for specific periods at any given time- ie. 3-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-24 months and 24 months-plus as of the end of each month.
The Department's SDU projects forward and calculates lists by estimating the numbers that might be waiting for specific periods in the future, for example, how many would have been waiting for 12 months by the end of December.
According to latest SDU figures there are 684 patients under this heading at the moment, who will still be on lists by the end of the year if the Minister's target is not reached. Minister Reilly has said the bulk of these 684 patients relate to a single hospital.
HSE figures showed that in September ther were over 30,000 people waiting between three months and over 12 months for hospital treatment- athe highest number inover 10 years.
With patients coming on to waiting lists all the time, up-to-date HSE figures to be published shortly will show the impact Dr Reilly's initiative has had on overall waiting lists.
Under the waiting list initiative, launched during the summer, the NTPF is now targeting particular backlogs rather than routinely accepting referrals of public patients waiting over three months.
In addition, the requirement that the NTPF purchase 90% of treatments in private hospitals has been ended.
[Posted: Fri 09/12/2011]