Dáil Éireann - Volume 512 - 01 December, 1999
Written Answers. - Hospital Waiting Lists.
Mr. Allen Mr. Allen
176. Mr. Allen asked the Minister for Health and Children if he will make a statement on the reports that his Department has urged public health service managers to use private hospitals, where spare capacity exists, to reduce the backlog of elective cases caused by cancellations as a result of the nurses' strike. [25602/99]
Mr. Cowen Mr. Cowen
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Cowen): Following the conclusion of the nurses' dispute, my Department has been working with health agencies to ensure that services to patients return to normal as soon as possible. My Department  has emphasised to agencies the importance of meeting their service plan targets by the end of this year and of using available resources to maximum effect.
To ensure that service plan targets are met, and that any backlogs are addressed, my Department has put forward a number of approaches that could be adopted by agencies. These include optimising the use of theatres, streamlining discharge arrangements, maximising the use of step-down and convalescent facilities, and encouraging staff to participate fully in local plans to meet targets for the year. Agencies have also been informed that, where appropriate, it is open to them to utilise the services of private hospitals provided that spare capacity is available in these facilities. This is in the context of ensuring that resources are used to the maximum benefit of patients, and that waiting lists and waiting times are addressed in the most effective manner possible.
Dáil Éireann 512 Written Answers. Hospital Waiting Lists.