Dáil Éireann - Volume 586 - 26 May, 2004
Written Answers - Hospital Waiting Lists.
Mr. Eamon Ryan Mr. Eamon Ryan
99. Mr. Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Health and Children when he expects to be in  a position to end waiting lists as he previously promised; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15722/04]
Mr. Martin Mr. Martin
Mr. Martin:There are two streams to hospital activity, emergency and elective activity. Pressures on the hospital system due to identified capacity constraints hinder its ability to provide elective activity in a planned way because of the urgent and unpredictable needs of emergency patients. This is a complex area. Patients who require elective treatment may have to wait because beds, staff and operating theatres are being used to treat emergency cases. The balance to be achieved is to ensure that the available resources are used efficiently and that treatment can be delivered to patients in a reasonable time.
Therefore, the significant issue from the patients perspective is the length of time spent waiting for treatment and as such my Department’s objective is to reduce waiting times significantly in the short term with particular focus on those waiting longest for treatment. I recently announced the transfer of responsibility for the recording and publishing of waiting lists to the national treatment purchase fund. The NTPF has reported that waiting times have fallen significantly, with 37% of patients now waiting between three and six months and 43% waiting between six and 12 months for surgery. Some 80% of patients now wait less than one year for surgical treatment. This represents a major reduction in the length of time patients have to wait.
While the rate of progress in achieving the targets set out in the health strategy has been slower than anticipated, the targets still remain a goal to be achieved and I will continue to keep the focus on reducing waiting lists and waiting times.
Dáil Éireann 586 Written Answers Hospital Waiting Lists.