The waiting lists for outpatient treatment in Nenagh General Hospital were halved last year, according to figures released by the Department of Health.
The news was welcomed by Junior Minister Alan Kelly and Fine Gael’s Noel Coonan.
“This is great news for outpatients. The reduction has taken place following the introduction of a number of initiatives, including proactive advance notification to patients of upcoming appointment date (e.g. via text / letter), utilisation of electronic referral systems and the provision of outpatient clinics across a broader range of hours to accommodate a wider range of patient needs. Inpatient lists at the hospital have also fallen dramatically during that time,” he said.
Deputy Kelly said that “huge credit should be given to the staff at the hospital for their commitment and hard work”.
Deputy Noel Coonan pointed out that the outpatient list was reduced by 50 per cent between last March and December.
“Meanwhile, the number of people on the inpatient waiting list has dropped from 944 in 2011 to 387 at the end of 2013, a 40 per cent decrease. There has also been a 100 per cent reduction in the number of inpatients waiting eight months or more,” he said.
Matters are improving, and while there is still work to be done to further reduce waiting lists, we are moving in the right direction, said Deputy Coonan.
The chief executive of UL Hospital Ann Doherty told the first public meeting of the new hospital’s group board in Limerick that at the end of 2013, no patient was waiting for over 12 months for a routine outpatient appointment, over eight months for scheduled inpatient or day case procedures, and no child is waiting over eight months for a scheduled inpatient or day case procedure. All targets for routine and urgent colonoscopies were also met.
Ms Doherty said that this year, UL Hospitals plan to complete the development of ICU and HDU capacity to 10 and eight beds respectively, to maximise the use of bed capacity across all hospital sites in Limerick, Clare and North Tipperary, to recruit additional neonatal and obstetric consultants and to strengthen the relationship with UL through. Plans for 2014 also include the commissioning of new theatres at Nenagh Hospital and the opening of additional beds at University Hospital Limerick in Dooradoyle.
Meanwhile, according to figures released last week, funding for the Mid West Hospital Group, which includes Nenagh, has been cut for 2014 from E252.91m to E234.86.
Asked how this might affect Nenagh, a spokesman for the HSE said that acute hospital services work on the directorate model across six sites so budgets are not worked out for individual hospitals.