Fórsa has said the HSE’s new acute waiting list action plan, published last week, must focus on the community-led, integrated care plan central to Sláintecare or face failure. The plan aims to reduce projected acute waiting lists by 150,000.
The union has welcomed the initiative, which identifies a number of actions designed to reduce a projected spike in waiting lists toward the end of this year. But it warned that failure to utilise the integrated care model, where service users can access initial treatment in a community setting, will prolong reliance on acute hospitals and drive up waiting lists.
The Sláintecare integrated care plan central was the best way to ensure that acute hospitals don’t become overloaded.
The curtailment of non-urgent scheduled care during the pandemic and the cyber-attack on the HSE increased waiting lists, leaving 761,000 waiting for their first outpatient appointment, procedure or surgery.
The HSE projects that over 500,000 more patients will need care between now and the end of the year.
Waiting lists are to be assessed by individual hospital groups and supports are to be put in place to ensure a focus on local waiting list reduction.
The National Treatment Purchase Fund and the HSE will remove duplications, take action to reduce in missed appointments, and ensure better scheduling of patients.
The head of Fórsa’s Health and Welfare Division, Éamonn Donnelly, called on the HSE to ensure put resources in place to implement the plan, and said the Sláintecare integrated care plan central was the best way to ensure that acute hospitals don’t become overloaded.
Health workers know that success depends on utilising community services to divert excessive demand away from acute hospitals.
“As we head into winter with a pent-up demand for services, Fórsa recognises the need for a proactive approach. It’s vital, however, that the minister and HSE continue to ensure an approach based on integrated care.
“Over the last 19 months, health staff have worked flat out to meet the extraordinary demands of the pandemic. They are as keen as anyone else to ensure this plan works, and they know that success depends on utilising community services to divert excessive demand away from acute hospitals,” he said.
The integrated care model is designed to achieve maximum waiting times of ten weeks for outpatients, 12 weeks of inpatient day case and ten days for diagnostics.
For the longer term, the health department, HSE and National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) are finalising a multi-annual plan based on a ‘twin track approach of investment and reform’ to be overseen by a ministerial taskforce.
Targets and detailed hospital plans are being developed to bring waiting lists in line with Sláintecare targets. Read the action plan HERE.
Representing over 30,000 health workers including health and social care professionals, clerical, administrative, management and technical staff. We consider it one of the many strengths of the union that our members are central to the delivery the full array of health and welfare services in Ireland. To find out more about the range of grades represented, and where they operate within those services, visit our map “At the heart of Health and Welfare.”