Health | The steps that are being taken to clear waiting lists for cataract treatment
To ask the Minister for Health the steps that are being taken to clear waiting lists for cataract treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
My Department works closely with the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to improve access for patients waiting for high volume procedures, including cataracts. Ophthalmology services are provided throughout all hospital groups in the country, with cataract removal one of the key procedures carried out as part of this specialty.
The 2022 Waiting List Action Plan, published in February of this year, allocates €350m to the HSE and NTPF to reduce and reform acute scheduled care waiting lists. Under this plan the Department, HSE, and NTPF will deliver urgent additional capacity for the treatment of patients, as well as investing in longer term reforms to bring sustained reductions in waiting lists.
Through the Waiting List Action Plan, public hospitals will be supported by the NTPF in a number of ways, including funding the operation of cataract clinics in the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital and in Nenagh General Hospital.
The Plan also identifies cataracts as one of 15 high-volume procedures for which the NTPF will ensure that people waiting over 6 months will receive an offer of treatment, provided they are clinically ready. As of the end of May, just over 1,500 patients had been waiting more than 6 months for an inpatient day case (IPDC) cataract procedure, and over 1,300 of them have been made an offer of treatment.
Implementation of the Waiting List Action Plan is overseen by a Task Force, co-chaired by the Secretary General of my Department and the CEO of the HSE. The Department, HSE and NTPF will continue to work closely to identify ways to improve access to care across the system, including through increased use of private hospitals, funding weekend and evening work in public hospitals, funding ‘see and treat’ services, providing virtual clinics, and increasing capacity in the public hospital system.
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