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Waiting list management programmes rolled out by NTPF

The training programme, which is being run by the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), will focus on administrative practices in waiting list management and the introduction of standardised protocols.

It is one of a number of projects being conducted by the Fund in order to reduce waiting lists in line with its increased responsibility for the area.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health also confirmed to the Medical Independent (MI) that the NTPF has finalised its report on the feasibility of progressing to a more integrated approach to waiting list management at Hospital Group level and its findings are currently being considered by the Department.

The NTPF was asked to establish and lead a project team to examine the move, following the broadcast of the RTÉ documentary Living on the List earlier this year. The documentary highlighted how waiting list figures published by the Fund did not include pre-admit lists or planned procedures. However, the NTPF commenced publishing data on the pre-admit (To Come In – TCI), planned procedures and suspension lists on its website at the end of August.

Earlier this month, an audit of hospital waiting lists undertaken by the Fund following the RTÉ documentary was published. The report looked at a sample of 200 patient cases across five sites – Dublin-based Tallaght Hospital, the Mater Hospital, and Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital, Crumlin, and the South Infirmary Victoria University Hospital in Cork and Cork University Hospital.

“The hospitals audited did not comply with national protocols in relation to data captures,” according to the report.

“The audit team found evidence of a combination of non-compliance and inconsistent practices in relation to how data captures were being recorded across all of the hospitals for outpatient, inpatient, day case and planned procedure pathways. In some cases, the audit team found evidence of long delays in wait-listing patients and also retrospective wait-listing of patients.”

In each of the hospitals reviewed, the audit team observed non-compliance in relation to assigning clinical prioritisation on either the outpatient referral letter or admission/booking form.

Minister for Health Simon Harris has requested the NTPF to develop a plan which will extend the special audit process so that it covers other public acute hospitals.

Meanwhile, the Department gave the HSE approval in September to put in place capacity to drive a national waiting list validation project. This funding will provide for dedicated capacity within the HSE to support systematic and regular waiting list validation and continued focus on scheduled care.

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