Press Release

Minister Martin launches National Treatment Purchase Fund Patient Information Booklet

First patients scheduled for UK treatment

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, TD today announced details of the National Treatment Purchase Fund´s (NTPF) patient awareness campaign with the launch of a Patient Information Booklet which is being distributed to all GP’s and health boards throughout the country. The booklet explains the purpose of the fund, who is eligible and how it works.

Patients on public hospital waiting lists for over a year were urged by the Minister and the NTPF to contact their family doctor, consultant or health board to establish and take up their entitlement under the scheme. To date over 700 patients have been treated in Ireland and Northern Ireland and the first patients will shortly receive treatment in the Uk. The majority of treatments have been for conditions such as varicose veins, cataracts, hernias and plastic surgery. A number of children have also received treatment in both private and public hospitals in Ireland.

The NTPF provided details of their waiting list, the expected timescale for clearing it and the monthly throughput of patients to date. Following a detailed verification of patients on waiting lists, the long waiters being targeted initially by the NTPF (“Group One” – i.e. adults waiting over a year and children waiting over six months as at March, 2002) is 6,805 adults and 1,500 children, a total of 8,305.

The NTPF has put in place arrangements with four UK hospitals, two BUPA hospitals located in Liverpool and Manchester and two BMI hospitals located in Basingstoke and close to Heathrow. There is sufficient capacity in these UK hospitals to treat 100 patients per month this year, rising to 200 per month in 2003, while in Ireland there is currently capacity to treat 300 patients per month rising to 400 per month in 2003, a combined total of 600 patients a month in 2003.

The Patient Information Booklet will increase awareness among patients who have been waiting for hernia, hip, cataracts and tonsil operations of their entitlement to treatment under this initiative. Once identified as eligible, and referred by their consultant patients will receive their treatment within a number of weeks.

Speaking at the launch The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Micheál Martin, TD said, “The Government is strongly committed to the principle that no patient will wait longer than three months for treatment by the end of 2004. The NTPF has the funding, the commitment and the beds available to treat up to 2,000 patients this year and we expect to treat at least 1,900.

The co-operation from the medical community in the interest of patients and the continued increase in throughput of referrals will ensure that we will clear the Group One list of 8,305 people by the end of 2003.”

Commenting at the launch Maureen Lynott, Director of the NTPF said, “We welcome the Government´s strong commitment to the National Treatment Purchase Fund. Patients should be aware that the process is easy and confidential and that they will receive the best of care. People who have been on public hospital waiting lists for over a year for procedures like hernia, hips, cataracts and tonsils should contact their family doctor, consultant or local Health Board to establish and take up their entitlement to treatment under this scheme. Patients have waited long enough – as a general principle there is no reason for any further delay in referral or treatment.”