The Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly has said that it is a priority to tackle waiting lists as he welcomed a plan to ease them.

As the Irish Examiner reports, the Acute Hospital Waiting List Plan is aimed at mitigating the impact of the pandemic and the cyberattack on scheduled care activity.

It comes as it was revealed today that more than 21,000 people have been waiting over a year for surgery, with the 145 per cnet increase in the numbers stuck on lists being attributed to the pandemic.

Mr Donnelly said that remedial action must be taken to ensure waiting lists do not get worse.

The plan has been developed between the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).

It will tackle five specific areas, which are: waiting list management, immediate capacity, improved modernised pathways, preparation for the introduction of maximum wait time targets, and data and information.

Mr Donnelly said that the pandemic and the HSE cyberattack had “an unavoidable adverse impact on waiting lists”.

He stated: “This immediate-short term plan is a joint approach by the HSE, the NTPF and my department to tackle backlogs and to stem any further growth in waiting lists by the end of this year.

“The plan has targets in areas of waiting list management, immediate capacity, improved pathways of care and improved data collection and information.”

Mr Donnelly said that the plan is just one component in overall plans to tackle waiting lists and that longer-term Multi-Annual Waiting List Plan will be developed.