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Major delays to 20 key Sláintecare initiatives

By Reporter - 28th Mar 2023

A total of 20 Sláintecare initiatives fell significantly behind target last year, according to the newly published Sláintecare Progress Report 2022.

There was a total of 120 ‘deliverables’ in the Sláintecare Action Plan 2022.

According to the progress report, 100 deliverables (83.3 per cent) were delivered or have progressed as planned or with minor delays.

However, 16 deliverables (13 per cent) experienced “significant delays” and four deliverables (3 per cent) have “been impacted by external dependencies”.

Two projects to fall significantly behind schedule were an interim ICT solution to support patient information and real time reporting, and the delivery of additional home support hours.

Both projects were within enhanced community care.

Another was the development of a new National Physical Activity Plan (NPAP).

“Due to the prioritisation of the development and launch of the free contraception scheme, development of the new NPAP had to be deferred and will now be finalised in quarter 4 2023,” according the report.

Major delays also occurred in the development of an adult safeguarding policy; an action plan based on the disability capacity review; a national mental health services research and evaluation strategy; and a policy paper on the future direction of long-term residential care infrastructure and financial sustainability.

One of the four initiatives to experience a “significant delay due to external dependency” was the complete implementation of the 2022 Waiting List Action Plan (WLAP) .

“Significant reform actions in the 2022 WLAP were intended to be progressed in tandem with delivering extra activity. However, recurrent funding was deemed required to deliver key reform actions in the coming years, including sustainably resolving capacity gaps and implementing the modernising of 37 acute scheduled care pathways. €123 million was included in Budget 2023 and the HSE is progressing planning for the implementation of these care pathways on this basis. Details have been included in the 2023 WLAP, published in quarter 1 2023.

“While not all the ambitious targets set out in the 2022 plan were achieved, positive progress was made in reducing long waiters. The overall number of patients exceeding the Sláintecare maximum wait time targets decreased by 11 per cent, or 56,000 people in 2022, and, since the peak of the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a 24 per cent reduction in the number of people waiting longer than the Sláintecare targets.”

Another of the four areas to fall behind due to external factors was the review and enhancement of the the model for industrial relations in the health sector.

“This work has been delayed due to priority of Sláintecare consultant contract,” the report stated.

At the publication of the progress report, the Minister of Health Stephen Donnelly stated: “In 2022 and 2023 central elements of Sláintecare have and are being achieved, including the new public-only consultant contract, a new community-based service, enhanced community care (ECC), and certain eligibility measures. Many Sláintecare measures have been achieved, or are progressed at pace, while some require significant additional focus, such as e-health. At the same time, important new Programme for Government measures, also essential to universal healthcare, and which move beyond Sláintecare, are also progressing well. These include clinical strategies and services, acute and critical care capacity and new eligibility measures.”

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