In accordance with health strategy objectives, the Government's immediate focus is on the reduction of waiting lists and waiting times for inpatient and day case treatments in acute hospitals. This is being particularly facilitated by the national treatment purchase fund, NTPF. The NTPF has reported that waiting times have fallen significantly, with 37% of patients now waiting between three and six months and 43% waiting between six and 12 months for surgery. Some 80% of patients now wait less than one year for surgical treatment. This represents a major reduction in the length of time patients have to wait. The NTPF has been successful in arranging treatments for approximately 19,000 patients up to the end of September 2004. It is now the case that, in most instances, anyone waiting more than three months will be facilitated by the fund.
Responsibility for the management and monitoring of patients waiting for outpatient appointments rests with the individual hospitals and health boards concerned. It is a matter for each hospital to prioritise its services based on patient need and use its available resources to best effect to ensure that patient services are delivered efficiently and effectively.