Reilly planning to eliminate long waiting lists within five years

Minister aims to cut inpatient, outpatient and hospital trolley waiting times to below European norms

 Minister for Health James Reilly   will shortly publish a strategy designed to make waiting lists “a thing of the past” by the time universal health insurance is introduced in 2019, he said last night.

Minister for Health James Reilly will shortly publish a strategy designed to make waiting lists “a thing of the past” by the time universal health insurance is introduced in 2019, he said last night.

Sat, Apr 5, 2014, 01:01


Minister for Health James Reilly is working on plans to eliminate long hospital waiting lists within five years.

Dr Reilly will shortly publish a strategy designed to make waiting lists “a thing of the past” by the time universal health insurance is introduced in 2019, he said last night.

The aim is to reduce inpatient, outpatient and hospital-trolley waiting times to below European norms and to make UHI more palatable to middle-class patients, who tend to invest in private health insurance in order to obtain quicker treatment.

“UHI is a two-administration project; in our current term, we’re putting together the building blocks and full rollout will follow in 2019. But you couldn’t countenance bringing it in fully without addressing the waiting-list issue.”

He said he wanted to build on the success of existing initiatives to reduce waiting lists, including the creation of the special delivery unit and the assembly of hospital groups.

“What we’ve achieved already has been done with reduced funding and fewer staff. The figures have improved due to better organisation on the front line of the health service.”

New figures from the Department of Health show that the number of patients waiting on trolleys in hospital emergency departments fell by 2.9 per cent in the first three months of this year compared to 2013.

This was in spite of extreme winter-related pressure in some hospitals, reflected in a 3 per cent increase in attendances and admissions over the period.

The department says trolley numbers fell by one-third over the 2011-13 period, meaning 29,000 fewer patients were kept on trolleys.

Dr Reilly decried the traditional “acceptance” of waiting lists in some areas and he promised that there would be “no let-up” in getting the lists reduced.