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Reduction in waiting lists achieved but below target

By Reporter - 09th Jan 2024

The reduction in the overall waiting list failed to meet the target set out in the 2023 Waiting List Action Plan (WLAP), according to the Department of Health.

While the WLAP aimed for a 10 per cent reduction, the Department said in a statement the overall waiting list only decreased by three per cent.

However, the Department pointed out that the core target of achieving a 10 per cent reduction in the number of patients waiting longer than the agreed Sláintecare times (10/12 weeks) was exceeded in 2023, with an 11 per cent  reduction. This equates to 57,000 patients.

Last year saw a reduction of almost one-third (32 per cent) for those waiting longer than 12 months, which equates to 54,000 patients. Since the peak during the Covid-19 pandemic, those waiting longer than 12 months has reduced by 60 per cent.

2023 is the second year in row that waiting lists have decreased. Over 177,000 more patients were removed from acute hospital waiting lists last year compared with 2022.

The target of removing approximately 1.66 million patients from waiting lists in 2023 was exceeded by 5 per cent, with around 1.74 million patients removed.

However, the rate of waiting list additions in 2023 “significantly” exceeded projections and previous years.

Additions for 2023 were 12 per cent (188,000) higher than in 2022 and almost 23 per cent ( 322,000) higher than in 2019.

Almost 130,000 (8 per cent) more patients were added to the waiting lists than was projected last year.

As a result of these additions, the target to reduce the overall waiting list was not achieved.

Under Budget 2023, €443 million was allocated to help address waiting lists last year.

A total of €363 million was provided to the HSE and the National Treatment Purchase Fund through the 2023 WLAP, as the next stage of the multi-annual approach to reduce and reform hospital waiting lists and waiting times.

Some €80 million was allocated to progress various primary/community care-related initiatives.

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The Medical Independent 11th June 2024

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