Health Minister Simon Harris has vowed to “dramatically reduce” waiting lists in the first six months of next year.
Mr Harris wants the people who have been waiting the longest to be seen and he will initially tackle day cases.
Some €20m has been allocated to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to address waiting lists in 2017, while a further €50m has been allocated for 2018.
“I want to see the NTPF really delivering for patients and I think it’s going to,” Mr Harris said.
“I would be apologetically telling them to target the funds at the longest waiters. Obviously, people look at the headline figure of how many people are on a waiting list. It’s important, but what’s much more important is how long you are waiting.
“The target has to be to dramatically reduce the time people are waiting.”
Mr Harris has signed off on the €5m, which will largely go towards day-case procedures, such as cataract operations, from January onward.
He said this first phase of funding should pay for 3,000 procedures. This means that no-one will be waiting more than 15 months for a day case procedure.
“When you make a targeted intervention on waiting lists, you can make a real difference. Funding is a big part of health, but, actually, how you spend the money is a big part of health, as well,” said Mr Harris.
“A lot of what will be my priorities in 2017 will be how you better spend the money.”
Mr Harris said that there would be no additional money provided to the HSE in 2017.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved