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€5 million budget for ultrasound services

By Paul Mulholland - 19th Mar 2023

ultrasound services

The HSE has requested expressions of interest for the provision of ultrasound services to manage GP referrals and hospital waiting lists.

The annual cost of the services will be approximately €5 million annually.

According to a recent tender document, an authorisation scheme is to be established to secure “suitable suppliers” located in Ireland to meet the requirements of patients to access community ultrasound through their GPs.

“The services will be delivered using service providers’ equipment with radiologists and radiographer sonographers provided by the service provider completing exams and reporting back to the referring GP,” according to the document.

The tender is divided into two ‘lots’: ‘Lot 1’ is for patient access to community ultrasound through GPs; and ‘lot 2’ is for ultrasound services to support hospital GP waiting lists.

The value of ‘lot 1’, which will have an initial term of three years, will be €3.5 million annually.

The value of ‘lot 2’, which will have an initial term of one year, will be €1.5 million annually.

The document states that lot 2 is required “to deal with a substantial waiting list backlog of approximately 12,000 ultrasounds”.

GP access to community ultrasound is available to adult patients (16 years of age and over) with a medical card, GP visit card, or Health Amendment Act card unless locally specified.

The ultrasound scheme to support hospital GP waiting lists (also known as the US backlog scheme) commenced in January 2021. The scheme aims to support  hospital sites with waiting list management for GP-referred ultrasound patients.

It is separate from the GP access to community ultrasound in that GPs do not refer directly to the scheme.

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