22 HIQA Waiting List Reports not implemented

The HSE has yet to implement a single HIQA report designed to reduce the number of unnecessary referrals to hospital and cut waiting lists. Waiting lists for outpatient appointments have exceeded 400,000 people for the first time.

During 2013 and 2014 HIQA published 22 Health Technology Assessments with recommendations – which if implemented – would help reduce hospital waiting lists significantly. These reports have been sitting on the Minister’s desk without any response, any action, or any implementation.

The HSE asked HIQA to recommend referral criteria and treatment thresholds based on international evidence and best practice. In response to this request HIQA undertook 22 separate Health Technology Assessments. A Health Technology Assessment is a multi-disciplinary approach used to determine how best to make use of limited resources within the health sector. With input from an expert advisory group and a review of international guidelines, international policy and economic evaluations HIQA made a number of recommendations.

Frequently reports commissioned by Government remain unimplemented as the resources to implement them are scarce. In this instance implementation would in fact free up resources and make our healthcare system more efficient. Minister Varadkar must explain why he has failed to implement these reports.

Current data suggest that 30% to 50% of patients referred to surgical outpatients (across all disciplines) do not proceed to surgery and are referred back to primary care. Reducing the rate of referral of patients who do not proceed to surgery would release capacity and resources at the tertiary care level, so that the patients with greater clinical need get speedier access to outpatient review and surgery, without causing harm or reducing benefit.

For a full list of the 22 HIQA reports please see:

86% increase in Government spend on health spin

While the Government chose to cut and freeze spending for frontline health services, the 2015 estimates reveal an astonishing 86 per cent increase in spending on PR.  Under the heading of Dissemination of Information, Conferences and Publications, T.D.s voted to increase spending from €813,000 in 2014 to €1.513 million this year.

At the same time the Government has slashed health spending by €213 million euro in 2015.  The effect is further damage to our healthcare system including:

  • record levels of overcrowding in hospitals – during February of this year 9,657 patients were waiting on trolleys and in chairs
  • over the last year hospital waiting lists for elective surgery have trebled
  • rolling closures of operating theatres in Hospitals such as Beaumont have doubled since January

PR and spin were not the only the areas to get increased funding though. Varadkar also found extra resources for consultancy and policy reviews, where spending will increase by 19 per cent in 2015.

During the same vote Government T.D.s decided to cut spending on medical cards, primary care and community care. Primary Care Reimbursement Services and Community Demand led schemes received a 1% cut in funding while 8 million euro was taken away from Medical Card provision.