'Longer winter led to waiting list surge'

Health Minister James Reilly has said increased pressure on hospital emergency services has led to an upsurge in treatment waiting lists so far this year.

irishhealth.com revealed yesterday that the number of patients waiting longer than six months for hospital treatment has nearly doubled since the end of 2012, and now stands at 11,348.

The Minister's Special Delivery Unit (SDU) made inroads into waiting lists last year, but increased winter pressure on hospitals has now caused planned treatment lists to rise significantly.

Minister Reilly has now announced that in order to tackle the waiting list backlog, €18 million is being allocated to five hospitals that account for most of the long waiters.

The number of 12-month plus waiters have increased from from 36 to 653 in the first four months of the year.

Under the initiative, expert teams from the SDU and the National Treatment Purchase Fund will visit the five hospitals to analyse the problem, and devise a plan to reduce waiting lists.

The €18 million in funding will be targeted at improvements in inpatient treatments, outpatients and trolley numbers.

Minister Reilly said today that in terms of admissions from hospital emergency departments, this year had been very different to other years, 'because we had a prolonged cold spell running through March and April'.

This resulted in an increase in the number of people being admitted from emergency departments, in particular, older people.

Dr Reilly said in order to accommodate this pressure on beds, planned, non-emergency surgery was slowed down in hospitals to make beds available for acute admissions through EDs.

Now that the acute phase was over, the Minister said, a start could be made on increasing the number of planned procedures in hospitals.

"We have an intervention fund and we can use that."

88% rise in treatment waiting lists


[Posted: Wed 22/05/2013]


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