Dublin West TD and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton TD, welcomed the announcement by her Labour Party colleague Róisín Shortall, Minister of State at the Department of Health with responsibility for Primary Care, following the announcement that show that there was a 19% reduction in the number of people waiting for opioid substitution treatment in the 13 month period from the end of March 2011 to the end of April 2012.
Minister Burton said that the implementation of National Drugs Strategy has adopted a proactive approach in reducing the number of people on the waiting list, in which the provision of treatment is a priority .
In her announcement Minister Shortall said “I welcome the reduction from 230 to 187 in the number of people on waiting lists for opioid substitution treatment,” said the Minister. “The provision of timely treatment greatly increases the likelihood of successful outcomes for the patients involved”.
The Minister continued “Since taking on responsibility for the implementation of the National Drugs Strategy I have made the provision of treatment a priority, with a particular focus on helping people to move on to drug-free lifestyles. The figures released today show that the work being done is having positive outcomes, though much more remains to be done”
“The HSE reported that 22 of its 48 clinics have no waiting times, and that 33 of the 48 have waiting times of less than a month. The longest waiting times are in the Midlands, the North-East and in pockets of Dublin. However even in areas where waiting times remain high, there is a very significant downward trend – from 10 months to 3 months in Athlone, from 7.5 months to less than a month in the City Clinic in Dublin, from 7 months to one month at the Dr. Steven’s Clinic, from 7 months to four months in Louth, and from 7 months to 2 months in Waterford.”
“Over the past two years additional services have been provided in Wexford, Waterford, Kilkenny, Cork, Tralee, Limerick and Dundalk. Apart from reducing the numbers on waiting lists, the provision of such services encourages more people to come forward for treatment. Since November 2011 the HSE, through a Waiting List initiative, has been reviewing areas that have large waiting lists with a view to maximising existing services and recruiting GPs trained to level 2 where required. Three new GPs have been approved at level 2 since January 2012 and there are currently four GPs undergoing level 2 training/mentorship” said Minister Shortall.
“At a time of cut-backs, HSE management and frontline staff deserve credit for making good progress and for doing more with less,” said Ms. Shortall.
The Minister acknowledged that there is a need to develop services further to ensure the provision of access to drug misuse treatment for all within one month of assessment, in line with the aims of the National Drugs Strategy.
“With the data now available we can assess more accurately the areas where treatment provision needs to be boosted further”, said Minister Shortall, “and I will work to address these needs over the coming months”.
**Full details of waiting lists are available on the Department of Health’s website at www.dohc.ie