Tuesday, 2 December 2003
Dáil Eireann Debate
244. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Health and Children the measures in place to notify those on hospital waiting lists that they may qualify for treatment under the National Treatment Purchase Fund; if his attention has been drawn to the low uptake of treatment under the fund in the Southern Health Board area; if the Southern Health Board will write to those in this position to advise them of the potential of treatment under the fund; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29109/03]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, has engaged in an extensive media campaign at national and local level to raise awareness among the general public of the services being offered to those waiting longest for hospital admission. The NTPF has also undertaken an information campaign among general practitioners and hospital doctors to raise awareness of the fund. Liaison officers are also in place at individual hospital level to identify those patients who may qualify for treatment under the NTPF. As the Deputy has made specific reference to the arrangements in place between the NTPF and the Southern Health Board, my Department has asked the chief executive officer of the board to reply directly to the Deputy on this matter.
245. Ms B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Health and Children the position regarding the amendment of criteria by the National Treatment Purchase Fund for patients waiting for treatment for periods of six months in the case of adults and three months in the case of children, whereby the 12 month targets have been met; the number of health board areas in which this has occurred; the number of patients to date who have received treatment under the fund in which the criteria have been so amended; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29110/03]
Minister for Health and Children (Mr. Martin): The National Treatment Purchase Fund is used for the purpose of treating public patients who have been waiting longest for operations. The initial target for the NTPF was to concentrate on those adults who had been waiting more than 12 months and those children who had been waiting more than six months for operations. To date, more than 9,000 patients have received treatment under the NTPF.
My Department has been informed by the NTPF that in general health boards outside the Eastern Regional Health Authority area have achieved the initial target of treating adults who have been waiting more than 12 months and children waiting more than six months. St. James's Hospital in Dublin also reports that there are no in-patients waiting more than 12 months for treatment.
Where the target has been achieved, the NTPF has agreed to allow those agencies reduce the threshold to six months for adults and three months for children in line with health strategy targets. The NTPF has informed my Department that in the case of general practitioners or individual patients who contact the NTPF on its Locall number, 1890 720 820, patients will be facilitated if they have been on an in-patient waiting list for an operation for six months in the case of adults or three months in the case of children. Patients are made aware that it may not always be possible to arrange for them to have their treatment locally and it may be necessary to have the procedure elsewhere. My Department has requested that the NTPF provide details on the number of patients treated to the Deputy.
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