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Waiting List Action Plan for 2023 Published

Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has published the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan. The 2023 Waiting List Action Plan sets out the ongoing priorities to continue to address waiting lists this year. The 30 actions in the Plan focus 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. The Action Plan is ambitious, targeting significant in-year additional activity to reduce waiting lists and move us closer to achieving the Sláintecare maximum wait times.

Minister 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 number waiting over Sláintecare targets (56,000 adults and children). This represents a fall from the COVID peak of 24%.”

“Countries across the world are also reporting increased pressure on their healthcare services and associated waiting lists largely due to the unprecedented impact of the pandemic. While these waiting lists have been a challenge for the Irish healthcare system for decades, they worsened considerably during the COVID-19 pandemic, and health services are now dealing with significant pent-up demand.”

“Activity funded under the 2023 Plan, that commenced in January, continues the work initiated in the 2021 and 2022 Action Plans. 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.
  • 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.

Minister Donnelly concluded, “with the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan, my department, the HSE and the NTPF are taking the next steps in the multi-annual approach towards achieving our vision of a world-class public healthcare system in which everyone has timely and transparent access to high-quality scheduled care, where and when they need it, in line with Sláintecare reforms.”


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