The national treatment purchase fund purchases procedures from private and public hospitals in Ireland. Where it is not possible to treat patients within a reasonable period here, either in public or private hospitals, arrangements are made to refer the public patients for treatment abroad, having regard to quality, availability and cost. I have been informed by the national treatment purchase fund that up to the end of December 2003, more than 9,700 patients have received treatment, of whom 225 patients have been sent outside the jurisdiction for treatment.
The fund has identified capacity to treat up to 800 patients per month predominantly in Ireland and in four hospitals in the United Kingdom. The NTPF will continue to identify capacity to treat those public patients who have been waiting longest for treatment in order to reduce the waiting time for patients.