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Public patients to wait maximum of 10 weeks for outpatient visit and 12 weeks for surgery by 2024, according to HSE plan

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HSE chief Paul Reid said the plan “comes at a time of significant challenge". Photo: Frank McGrath

HSE chief Paul Reid said the plan “comes at a time of significant challenge". Photo: Frank McGrath

HSE chief Paul Reid said the plan “comes at a time of significant challenge". Photo: Frank McGrath

In three years, public patients should be waiting no longer than 10 weeks for an outpatient appointment or 12 weeks for surgery, according to a new corporate plan from the HSE.

The plan, launched today, also said the delay for diagnostics such as a scan should not exceed 10 days.

The targets are set out in the HSE’s 2021-2024 Corporate Plan and come against a background of record waiting lists which means hospital consultants may soon see one million patients in some form of queue.

However, senior officials admitted the targets are unlikely to be met although they are serious about “going after” the long delays.

The plan aims to meet the recommendations of the Sláintecare blueprint for the health service.

The corporate plan makes clear that it needs an increase of €1.2bn annually as well as transitional funding of €500m a year.

Asked how the HSE expects to meet these targets, HSE chairman Ciaran Devane said today it will be necessary to demonstrate how they deserve the three-year funding by how they spend this year’s €20bn budget.

HSE chief Paul Reid said: “We know we are so far off the mark from the starting point we are at.”

The HSE has a €240m access to care fund this year and €125m for the National Treatment Purchase Fund.

The plan aims to provide supports to allow people to live at home as long as possible.

Mr Reid said the Covid pandemic had fast forwarded several changes set out in Sláintecare around how hospitals and community services work.

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But the plan acknowledges that better value for money is needed.

Mr Reid said the plan “comes at a time of significant challenge for all those working in healthcare”.

“Despite these challenges we are determined to turn this plan in to real action, to make improvements and to build and to enhance the progress of the Sláintecare vision.

“This plan seeks to accelerate the digitisation of our health service to improve access, support process improvements, and drive value for money.

“It is informed by the Programme for Government, the need to reform and improve our health services, the wider Covid-19 environment; the HSE pandemic plan and feedback from the consultation process.

“The plan also wants to bring continued progress in many key areas of service delivery, such as women’s health and maternity care, which require our focus and commitment to improvement and are important to our patients and service users.”

The HSE said it will implement the 2019 GP Agreement, including a structured programme for chronic disease management and prevention for medical card holders with an anticipated 75pc uptake, equating to 431,000 patients.

It will work with the Department of Health to establish and implement the Statutory Home Support Scheme with a target of doubling the existing home support hours, focusing on older people with high and moderate levels of frailty.

It aims to provide more care in the community to reduce the need for people to go to hospital and also expand efficiencies in technology with less reliance on paper-based work.

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