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New agency set up to cope with hospital waiting lists

Some of the National Treatment Purchase Fund’s role will be taken over by the new Special Delivery Unit, which will focus on eliminating patient waiting lists.

Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 17:30

MINISTER FOR HEALTH James Reilly has announced a new agency called the Special Delivery Unit whose priority will be to cut hospital waiting lists.

Under the government’s plans for the new agency, the role of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) will change.

The NTPF provides funding for private treatment for public patients who have been waiting over three months for treatment. Almost one-third of its annual budget is expected to be transferred over to the SDU to help ease waiting lists.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One this evening, Reilly clarified that the NTPF would not stop referring patients. He said it had been asked not to take on any new business until the SDU was in place, “which it is now” with a senior advisor. He said people hoping for NTPF assistance are still able to apply to it.

Reilly announced today that the SDU would be chaired by Dr Martin Connor, who previously worked as a special advisor to the Department of Health in Northern Ireland. Connor will report directly to Reilly and will focus on reducing the number of patients waiting on trolleys for treatment and on cutting on hospital waiting lists in general.

He will also be appointed to the board of the HSE, which will help him engage with HSE clinical programmes, according to the Department of Health. Reilly said Connor wants to analyse the situation first as regarding scheduled and unscheduled care as part of his work to reduce the waiting lists.

The minister added that Connor would also look into the annual surge of cases in winter time.

The SDU was included in the Programme for Government. RTÉ reports that an estimated 200,000 people are waiting to be seen at outpatient clinics, while some 26,000 people are waiting for inpatient treatment.

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