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NTPF to get €5m less allocation than pledged

07 Jun 2017

The allocation to the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) for the tackling of long treatment waiting lists is set to rise by a significant 30 per cent to €50 million for next year, but this is less than the €55m initially pledged, IMT reports.

Welcoming the publication of the HSE Scoliosis Waiting List Action Plan for 2017, Minister for Health Simon Harris last week said: “I wish to emphasise that the work due to take place this year is only the first step towards a more sustainable and sustained reduction in waiting times for patients. The NTPF allocation for 2018 will rise to €50m and planning for next year has already commenced.”

The NTPF resumed attempts to tackle waiting lists in 2017 after a hiatus of several years and was initially meant to be allocated €20 million in 2017 under Budget 2017 for the treatment of the longest-waiting patients, rising to €55m in 2018.

In December, Minister Harris granted approval to the Fund for the first €5 million tranche of funding for an initiative focused on those waiting longest for day-case treatment, with a view to ensuring that no patient would be waiting more than 18 months for treatment by the end of this month.

Last week, Harris said there was no doubt that our public hospital system was challenged in meeting the growing demand for care. Last year alone, there was a 2 per cent increase in inpatient and day-case activity over 2015. During 2016, almost 1.69 million patients received inpatient or day-case treatment in our hospitals — an increase of almost 40,000 on 2015.

“Consequently, through these Action Plans and the €15m of NPTF funding for patient treatment allocated in Budget 2017, I am determined that as much progress as possible will be made to reduce the numbers of patients waiting longest for treatment,” said Minister Harris.

Scoliosis
To meet its own target to reduce the waiting time for paediatric scoliosis procedures, the HSE is in the process of engaging a number of hospitals, including from overseas — but only within a three-hour flight to or from Ireland, IMT reports.

It plans to appoint four hospitals to the panel for an initial period of one year with the possibility of extension for up to two further periods of 12 months each, on the same terms and conditions.

“The HSE recognises that hospitals located outside of Ireland may tender and secure a place on the panel, thus necessitating patients and their parent/guardian or carer having to travel overseas for the purpose of obtaining treatment,” the Executive stated.

“Given that a long flight time could put stress on the patient, the HSE can only consider hospitals located within a two/three hour direct flight path from Ireland.”

The HSE, which indicated it was committed to funding the money required to address the scoliosis waiting list, said the objective was to commence the treatment of patients as soon as possible in order to meet the target of December 31.

The capacity to treat a minimum of 20 patients by year-end is a minimum requirement for a hospital’s entry onto the panel.

lloyd.mudiwa@imt.ie

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