The 2023 Waiting List Action Plan set out 30 actions in the Plan focussing on delivering capacity, reforming scheduled care, and enabling scheduled care reform.
A new multi-annual approach to sustainably reduce and reform hospital waiting lists and waiting times was adopted in September 2021. The Department of Health working closely with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), developed the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan as the next stage of this approach.
Health Minister, Stephen Donnelly said, “While the Government recognises that acute hospital scheduled care waiting lists are far too long, and that many patients are waiting an unacceptably long time for care, we are beginning to see progress. Last year saw an 11% fall in numbers waiting over Sláintecare targets (56,000 adults and children). This represents a fall from the Covid peak of 24%.
“In 2023, €443 million has been allocated in the Budget to continue this work. As we emerge from the pandemic and winter surges in COVID-19, ‘flu and RSV that greatly affected the capacity in our hospitals, there remain significant risks, assumptions and dependencies that will require effective mitigation to successfully deliver the 2023 plan. Without the intervention of the 2022 Plan, it is estimated that waiting lists would have increased by 42% to over 1 million people. Last year’s Action Plan was an important step towards enacting longer-term reforms and meaningful changes. While positive progress was made, there is much more work to be done.”
Key Highlights from the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan include:
- €443 million was allocated in Budget 2023 to address waiting lists.
- The 2023 Plan allocates €363 million of this funding as the next stage of the multi-annual approach to sustainably reduce and reform hospital waiting lists and waiting times.
- €80 million was allocated to various primary/community care related initiatives.
- The 2023 Plan is funding the HSE and the NTPF to reduce hospital waiting lists by 10% in 2023.
- This is building on the reductions in the waiting lists achieved in Q4 2021 and again in 2022.
- The agreed cross-party objective is to have nobody waiting longer than the Sláintecare targets (10 weeks Out Patient Department, 12 weeks Inpatient/Day Case/gastrointestinal endoscopy).
- In 2022 the numbers waiting over the Sláintecare targets fell by 11%, or 56,000 people.
- Since the pandemic peak there has been a 24% reduction in the number of people waiting longer than the Sláintecare targets. c.1.56 million patients were removed and c.1.53 million patients added to active hospital waiting lists during 2022 – a net reduction of c.30,000 people (4.1%) to c.690,000.
- The €363 million in the 2023 Plan includes recurrent funding of €123 million for the HSE to implement longer-term reforms such as modernised care pathways and closing capacity gaps.
- Non-recurrent funding of €240 million is also allocated to NTPF and HSE to provide additional public and private activity to clear the backlogs exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The NTPF continues to prove effective in securing care for patients. In 2022 one of its initiatives relates to patients waiting more than six months for 15 high volume procedures. This year the NTPF is reducing the time to three months and expanding to 20 high volume procedures.
- The 2023 Plan focuses on 30 actions across 3 areas (Delivering Capacity; Reforming Scheduled Care; Enabling Scheduled Care Reform) and will be governed by the Waiting List Task Force.