The numbers of patients on waiting lists per hospital;

To ask the Minister for Health and Children her views on the fact that more than 46,000 patients are on hospital waiting lists here; if she will provide a breakdown of the numbers of patients on waiting lists per hospital; and if she will make a statement on the matter. – Dan Neville

REPLY.

Since its establishment in 2002 the National Treatment Purchase Fund has provided over 200,000 public patients with inpatient treatment, diagnostic procedures and outpatient appointments. The median waiting time for medical and surgical patients is now 2.6 months. This is a very significant reduction from an average of between two and five years when the Fund was established in 2002. The cumulative amount allocated to the Fund from 2002 to 2010 is almost €598 million. Of this amount, €30.7 m has been allocated to costs related to administration of the Fund. This is approximately five per cent of the NTPF’s total funding in that period.

In 2009, the NTPF facilitated almost 29,000 patients (20,000 for elective surgery, 2,500 MRIs and 6,400 outpatient appointment) at a cost of €90m, including administrative costs of €4m. The Fund’s allocation for 2010 is €90.092m. The activity targets agreed involve facilitating 31,000 patients (20,000 inpatients, providing 3,000 MRIs and 8,000 outpatient appointments). The NTPF anticipates meeting these targets. I have emphasised to the Fund the need for maximum cost-effectiveness, consistent with safe and effective care. I have asked it to seek even better value from private hospitals and the Fund has successfully negotiated price reductions for certain high-volume procedures. In addition, it will not purchase services where the price is not acceptable.

The NTPF is responsible for the collation and reporting of national waiting list data and patients are placed on the national list only after they have been waiting three months. This is because many people receive their treatment within three months and, in some cases, with little or no waiting. It is not appropriate to classify these patients as “awaiting treatment” in the same way as those who have been waiting for several months. It is not therefore correct to conclude that there

The most recent figures relate to September 2010 and indicate that the number of patients waiting for over three months was 19,865. I would emphasise that it is more relevant to measure waiting times rather han the numbers of patients involved and as I have already indicated, enormous progress haare over 46,000 patients on waiting lists.

been made in recent years in reducing average waiting times. There remain a relatively small number of patients who have been waiting for longer than 12 months for treatment and I have emphasised to both the HSE and the NTPF that they must continue to work together to ensure that these patients are afforded treatment without further delay.

The detailed data on individual hospitals requested by the Deputy will be circulated.