Press Release

Tánaiste announces 14 new outpatient projects by NTPF for 5,000 patients

The Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney, T.D. today (25 May 2005) announced that the National Treatment Purchase Fund will implement 14 pilot projects to provide outpatient appointments for public patients who have been waiting longest to see a specialist.

Speaking at the publication of the NTPF’s annual report for 2004, the Tánaiste said

“These pilot projects will allow up to 5,000 people get earlier appointments to see a specialist so that a decision can be made on their treatment. The pilot projects will be run by the NTPF in co-operation with 14 public hospitals for patient referrals.

“They will cover all the specialty areas where the NTPF purchases treatments for public patients, for example, Ear, Nose and Throat, Orthopaedics, Urology, General surgery, Plastic surgery and Opthalmology.

“Late last year I asked the NTPF to examine how waiting lists for out-patient appointments might be dealt with. The intention is that people waiting longest in a number of specialties will receive consultations at out-patient level in private hospitals. If it is decided that any of the patients involved in the pilot projects require surgery then, of course, the Fund will make these arrangements.”

The cost of the initiative will be €2.5 million and will be met in this year’s NTPF budget, which was increased this year by €20 million to €64 million.

The Tánaiste added

“These are pilot projects. On completion, the Fund will report to me on the outcome of the projects, and this will guide us in deciding how best to address out-patient waiting times with a range of actions.

“The NTPF will continue to complement our substantial investment in public hospitals. They are already providing a tremendous range and number of services, as shown by the figures of over 2 million outpatient appointments and over 1 million in-patient discharges from public hospitals.

“I am also pleased that the NTPF is now making progress on developing a new, on-line, National Patient Treatment Register. The new Patient Treatment Register will allow for more accurate identification of waiting lists, and more importantly waiting times. It is intended that the register will be implemented on a phased basis during 2005.”