A NEW action plan aimed at reducing the number of people on waiting lists has been described as “farcical” by a Cork TD.
An extra 20,000 people on inpatient waiting lists will get treatment this year under the Inpatient/Day Case Action Plan 2018.
The government has allocated funding for 20,000 procedures, mainly high-volume operations like knee and hip replacements, cataract and tonsils surgery.
The plan was announced on Friday as 548 patients awaited hospital beds across Ireland, including 73 in CUH.
The HSE said it hopes to reduce the number of active patients waiting for an appointment date to 70,000 by the end of the year, a reduction of 12,500 and to reduce the amount waiting for over nine months for a procedure by 10,000.
The plan is a joint effort by the HSE, Department of Health and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), and has received funding of €50 million. “This year we will see a significant reduction in the number waiting for a procedure,” said Minister for Health, Simon Harris.
“The target is that the overall number will fall to under 70,000 by the end of the year — from a peak of 86,100 in July 2017. All patients who are waiting more than nine months for a cataract, hip and/or knee replacement, tonsils, Gastrointestinal scope or one of four other high-volume treatments will be offered treatment in 2018 if clinically suitable,” he added.
Independent TD for West Cork, Michael Collins said he believes the plan will go nowhere.
“This is just another government announcement that’s not going to happen, it’ll go nowhere,” he said.
“It’s a farcical plan and situation.”
Deputy Collins has organised cataracts surgery in Belfast for around 150 people from the Cork region over the past six months.
According to the Association of Optometrists Ireland (AOI), people in Cork are waiting up to five years for cataract surgery.
“They say they’ll get the waiting lists for cataracts surgery down, offering surgery to people who’ve been waiting over nine months, but the only way that’s possible is sending everyone to Northern Ireland for surgery,” said Deputy Collins.
“I have people who’ve been waiting six or seven years for cataract surgery.
“This is just another smokescreen and I won’t believe any of it until I see action on the ground and people in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s being cared for in their own community, not being forced to travel hundreds of miles for surgery,” he added.
The plan also states it hopes to reduce the number of patients waiting longer than three months to 40,000 and the number of patients waiting longer than nine months to 12,500 by year-end.