Arising from the health strategy quality and fairness – a health system for you, one of the key actions for dealing with the public hospital waiting lists was the establishment of the national treatment purchase fund (NTPF). The NTPF was set up in April and referred its first patients for treatment at the end of June. Health boards and hospitals have been asked to identify public hospital patients waiting longest on in-patient lists, so that they can be offered treatment under this initiative. The NTPF is initially concentrating on adults who have been waiting on in-patient lists over 12 months and children waiting over six months. Public patients who satisfy this criteria can apply to their GP, hospital consultant or local health board liaison person to seek to have their treatment carried out under the NTPF. The patient's consent to being treated under this scheme is also sought. Capacity is sourced by the NTPF and patients are referred for treatment.
To date capacity has been sourced in private hospitals in Ireland, Northern Ireland and in England. In the current year the NTPF expects to treat up to 2,000 patients and from January 2003 it expects to refer 600 patients per month for treatment. To date, circa 8,300 patients – group 1 – have been identified by hospitals and health boards as eligible for treatment under this initiative and approximately 1,000 patients have been treated.