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No patient to wait longer than 12 months for treatment

Health Minister James Reilly has instructed all public hospitals to ensure by the end of 2011 that no patient is waiting more than a year – if they don’t, their budgets will be cut.

Image: Eimear Doyle/Photocall Ireland

THE HEALTH MINISTER has vowed that no-one will languish on a public hospital waiting list for longer than a year.

James Reilly announced changes to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) yesterday, which he said will come into immediate effect. These are the three main changes, according to his statement:

  • All public hospitals are being instructed to ensure they have no patients waiting more than 12 months by the end of the year
  • The NTPF will target particular backlogs rather than routinely accept referrals of patients waiting over 3 months
  • The requirement that the NTPF purchase 90 per cent of treatments in the private sector is being ended

Reilly says these changes follow on from the setting up of the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) which is carrying out analysis of how elective and non-elective procedures are being delivered. It is clear from its research already, claims Reilly, “that individual hospitals can do more to reduce maximum waiting times for their patients”.

He said:

It is  unacceptable that hospitals leave some patients on waiting lists for very long periods of time safe in the knowledge that the NTPF will eventually pick up the tab. I will no longer tolerate this attitude to patients – hospitals need to become accountable for the listing decisions of their surgeons.

Reilly said that where public hospitals failed to clear waiting lists every 12 months, the NTPF will source treatments for those patients waiting longer than a year – and the hospital will have its budget cut by the cost of that treatment in 2012.

The ending of the NTPF purchase of 90 per cent of treatments in the private sector is to ensure that the taxpayer gets the best possible deal, said Reilly. He said:

I want the NTPF to drive a hard bargain on behalf of patients without regard to the location of the treatment.

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