I thank the Deputy for his important question about orthopaedics in the Cavan-Monaghan region. I am conscious that waiting times are often unacceptably long and that this places a burden on patients and their families. We are committed to improving waiting times for hospital appointments and procedures. We have made some progress on hospital operation waiting lists, which have fallen.
The HSE advises that the acute element of the orthopaedic service for this region is currently provided through Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda. The elective component of the service is provided via the regional orthopaedic unit in Our Lady’s hospital in Navan and consultants also work out of Cavan and Monaghan to provide clinics for orthopaedic patients, which is the germ of the Deputy's question. I understand that the delivery of orthopaedic services in this region is kept under review by the HSE.
More broadly, the Government announced in budget 2020 that it has further increased investment in tackling waiting lists, with funding for the National Treatment Purchase Fund, NTPF, increasing to €100 million in 2020. I know that is an issue of importance to the Deputy. This year-on-year increase to the NTPF provides opportunities to further improve waiting times.
My Department is now working with the HSE and the fund to develop the scheduled care access plan for 2020. The HSE service plan for 2020 will set out the planned activity level for the year ahead, while the NTPF will work with the hospital system to provide additionality to improve access to inpatient day case treatment, with a particular focus on hospital outpatient services. I encourage individual hospitals and hospital groups to put forward proposals for that 2020 funding. We now have a significant access fund of €100 million and we will be inviting proposals on what more can be done, whether in Cavan, Monaghan or other parts of the country, of which hospital groups are aware.
I will raise the issues noted in the Deputy's question directly with the NTPF and the HSE. I encourage the hospital group to bring forward proposals because I am happy to do whatever can be done to drive down orthopaedic waiting times in Cavan and Monaghan. I believe we now have the level of funding to make that a reality.