HOSPITALS will be incentivised to treat more patients next year under a new system of funding - but it is yet unclear what impact it will have on waiting lists.
Health Minister James Reilly announced today that he will bring in a system of “money follows the patient” from next year which would see hospitals paid per procedure.
This would change the current system where hospitals are given a block grant to do inpatient procedures such as surgery.
Health officials said it would lead to more efficiencies and would be central to another proposed major change where hospitals are part of groups.
This would mean that less complex surgeries can be spread out among smaller hospitals rather than clogging up lists in the largest hospitals.
The new system is seen as a stepping stone before the introduction of universal healthcare insurance where everyone is covered by insurance as a means of ending the current two tier system.
The cost of the universal healthcare insurance scheme has still not be set out and a long awaited white paper is promised this year.
The Minister said that money follows the patient is a “key building block for universal healthcare insurance “ and will deliver significant benefits in its own right.
“Work is advancing across all areas of the reform agenda,” he said at the launch of a progress report on the preparatory work done so far.
Waiting times for patients needing surgery have already been significantly reduced as have the numbers of people on trolleys in A&E departments, he added.