Outsourcing of patients is a costly exercise
Outsourcing of hospital waiting lists for some public patients is back on the agenda, despite a promise by the Government in 2011 that the setting up of its new Special Delivery Unit would make hospitals self-sufficient when it comes to clearing waiting lists.
The reality is that buying surgery slots or outpatient appointments for public patients in mostly private hospitals has never gone away, although there has been reluctance to publicise it. To do so would have been an admission of failure.
What makes the outsourcing different this time is that hospitals, or the groups they are part of, are using their own funding to tender for the work. Previously, a special fund was set aside to clear the waiting list bottleneck in this way.