I thank the Deputy for his important question. Reducing waiting time for patients for hospital operations and procedures remains a key priority. As the Deputy correctly stated, in budget 2019 we further increased investment in this area, with funding to the National Treatment Purchase Fund to increase from €55 million in 2018 to €75 million in 2019, an overall increase of 150 % since the Government came into office and entered into the confidence and supply agreement.
In 2019, the NTPF plans to deliver 25,000 inpatient day case treatments, an increase of 5,000 from the 20,000 procedures committed to in the waiting list action plan this year. In addition, provision of 5,000 gastrointestinal scopes will be arranged by the NTPF, an increase of 1,000 from its target for this year. Furthermore, 40,000 first outpatient appointments will be arranged. This is a very important point. As has been acknowledged by Fianna Fáil, we have made significant progress. There has been a very significant reduction in the inpatient day case list, from approximately 86,000 people waiting for hospital operations or procedures at its peak to the low 70,000s. The number waiting is projected to continue to drop month on month. We know the investment is making a difference in that area. We now need to target outpatient lists, which is why I will be putting a particular focus on those 40,000 first outpatient appointments in terms of the resourcing of the NTPF.
There have been ongoing improvements in the number of patients waiting for inpatient and day case procedures this year, with the number now at 72,700, down from a peak of 86,100. That is a 16% reduction and the number awaiting treatment will continue to fall. The number of patients waiting for over nine months has reduced from over 28,000 to under 19,000 in the same period, a 32% reduction. It is expected that through the combination of HSE and NTPF activity this trend will continue. It is projected that the overall number of patients on the inpatient day case waiting list will reduce to approximately 70,000 by the end of this year and to under 59,000 by the end of 2019.
NTPF activity next year will cover approximately 50 high to medium-volume procedures and will be through a combination of treating patients in outsourced facilities and public in-sourced facilities. I will publish a waiting list plan with the NTPF detailing that but about 50 high to medium-volume procedures will be targeted in 2019.