THE Government is planning to reduce waiting lists by getting up to 10pc more procedures done for the same cost under a new funding system for hospitals.
Without any reduction in patient safety standards, the new German-style model is expected to treat more patients while also making the hospital system more efficient.
The amount of time patients spend needlessly in hospital is reduced, because treatments have to be planned and organised properly.
"Taking patients in the night before can be just the power of habit, but there's often no patient safety issues whereby they have to be in the day before," a source said.
A test-run in Cappagh Hospital in Dublin, on hip and knee procedures, resulted in the number of patients being admitted on the day of their operation increasing by half.
Health Minister James Reilly's officials have visited hospitals and met with health service managers in Germany to see how their system works as it is regarded as one of the best in the world.
Mr Reilly has given the go-ahead for the radical new way of funding hospitals from next year, after an international expert gave the all-clear to the reform.
Instead of giving a hospital a block grant, the funding will be based on the number of patients the hospital treats and the services it provides.
"You put the patient at the centre of the system. Hospitals do more but do more for lower prices," a source said.
The new funding model, known as Money Follows The Patient (MFTP) will be rolled out on a phased basis to 38 hospitals next year.
The move is viewed as the way to dismantle the overly centralised control of the HSE.
Having hospitals competing against each other for patients is intended to result in prices coming down.
"Hospitals have to do more and treat more. You're encouraging specialisation – at all levels. The smaller hospitals are likely to focus on day surgery, so it gives them a role into the future.
"For the bigger hospitals, complex procedures will take place in a smaller number of places. Hospitals will not be able to say they can all do every procedure to a required level. All the evidence internationally is it's much, much safer," a source said.