Update: Waiting Lists in Hospitals 1st July 2014

1st July 2014 - Bernard Durkan TD

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly)
by Deputy Bernard J. Durkan
for ORAL ANSWER on 25/06/2014  
 To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which patients presenting for what are deemed to be non-emergency or non urgent procedures are put on waiting lists for prolonged periods, often in very severe pain resulting in great distress for them and their families; if any effort is being made to examine such cases with a view to ensuring that the alleviation of pain becomes an issue in the determination of priority; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

                                                                                                                                                Bernard J. Durkan T.D.

Management of all patients on waiting lists takes place in line with an agreed national policy on waiting list management (2013). This policy has been developed to ensure that all administrative, managerial and clinical staff follow an agreed national minimum standard for the management and administration of waiting lists for scheduled care.
The policy describes the process for assigning priority to patients. All patients added to the waiting list are assigned a priority category of either ‘routine’ or ‘urgent’. A number of factors determine prioritisation of the clinical urgency of a patient and their subsequent scheduling.  Pain levels are considered as one of these factors. The decision in relation to prioritisation is a clinical decision, taken by a doctor, as is proper.
In addition to the National Waiting List Management Policy, a toolkit to support the successful implementation of the new Policy has been developed. The Performance Improvement Toolkit for Scheduled Care focuses on the organisational, procedural and operational changes necessary to improve patient experience of scheduled care in Ireland. It provides an organisational assessment tool to enable hospitals to understand their current capabilities and performance. It also identifies areas for hospitals to focus on improvements based on the organisational assessment.              
With the assistance and support of the SDU and the NTPF, 90% of adult patients were waiting less than  8 months at the end of April 2014, with 10% waiting longer than the 8 month target. That 10% comprises 4,462 patients, which compares favourably to the 5,302 adult patients who had been waiting longer than 8 months in April 2013. Even more significant improvements are evident in outpatient waiting lists, which indicate that  93% of outpatients have been seen within 52 weeks by the end of April 2014, whereas only 73% of Outpatients had been seen within 52 weeks in April 2013.
Should any patient consider that his or her clinical condition and/or pain levels are disimproving, it is recommended that they bring this to the attention of their GP, who can bring this to the attention of the consultant with a request that the level of priority of the patient be reconsidered.

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