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Fresh moves to cut waiting lists 13 June 2007

The Minister for Health and Social Security, Eddie Teare MHK, has announced that he is seeking approval for an additional two million pounds to undertake waiting list initiatives, in June’s sitting of Tynwald. The emphasis of these initiatives will be on ophthalmology and orthopaedics services. Waiting times for these specialties have grown steadily as continually growing demand has exceeded the Health Service’ capacity to provide treatment and for some patients the waiting times have exceeded 18 months.

The DHSS proposes to act urgently to relieve the concern that long waiting times are causing for some patients and the Minister is seeking additional funding to address the excessive waiting times whilst longer-term solutions are implemented.

The DHSS is, in particular, looking at how it can reduce pressure on consultant-provided services at Noble’s Hospital, to ensure that consultants skills and capacity are used to the best effect by seeing only those cases that they need to see. The key is ensuring that care for patients is delivered in the most cost effective and appropriate setting for their clinical needs. That is a complex matter, which requires time to complete the necessary research and involves consultation with doctors, nurses, other clinical staff and managers throughout the Health Service, not only at Noble’s Hospital. However, it cannot be achieved fast enough to have a speedy enough impact on waiting times.

Mr Teare MHK said,

“This situation is clearly unacceptable and unsustainable but, at the same time, the Department has to live within the resources allocated to it. We cannot simply ‘buy our way’ out of health waiting list problems by devoting ever increasing amounts of money to short-term waiting list initiatives, only to see waiting lists expand as soon as the initiatives come to an end because we have not addressed the underlying problem of rising demand. Nor can we simply continue to expand services. We need to adopt more innovative approaches to managing demand in order to ensure that that the measures we put in place have a long-term effect and do not, as too often has happened in the past, simply achieve a temporary reduction in waiting times. We must ensure that we have a sustainable future for all our Health Services”

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