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Mr O’Brien, who was speaking earlier today at the launch of the HSE’s National Service Plan 2017, said that insourcing has been part of the approach taken to treating patients waiting longest for hospital procedures this winter.
“So younger patients who have been waiting too long for scoliosis treatment have been treated at different public hospitals,” according to Mr O’Brien.
“That is definitely going to be part of a future strategy with the clear aim of ensuring the longest waiters are dealt with either by the public system or by the NTPF team through various measures.”
Minister for Health Simon Harris, also speaking at the launch, said that the approach to reducing waiting lists will not purely be achieved by the NTPF outsourcing procedures to private hospitals.
“I want to be very clear; my message to patients on waiting lists is not that the only answer is outsourcing. I have been largely critical of the fact that in the past the NTPF has largely just done outsourcing because I have spoken to doctors in the health service who have told me that insourcing could happen, that there are hospitals in the public sector with capacity,” the Minister stated.
“So the NTPF is mandated to do insourcing and outsourcing.”
Regarding emergency departments, Minister Harris said progress had been made in reducing delayed discharges, although he admitted too many people remained on trolleys.
He also said that the problem of emergency department overcrowding was not uniform in hospitals, pointing to recent improvements in Beaumont Hospital and University Hospital Limerick, which have been achieved through better process management.
The HSE Service Plan for 2017 states each budget holder across the Executive will face challenges in delivering safe services within the available resources.
In particular, the plan states the scale of the challenge will present “particular difficulties within disability services in the areas of emergency placements, de-congregation and HIQA compliance, as well as in primary care services, particularly in terms of responding to the growing numbers of complex paediatric discharges”.
Minister Harris also said a working group will be established, comprising members from the Department of Health, the HSE, and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, with the aim of reducing spending on pharmaceutical products.