Tuesday 15 October 2019

Revealed: 25,000 public patients on waiting list to be offered free private treatment this year

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Up to 25,000 public patients who have been on a waiting list for surgery longer than six months will be offered the option to have free private treatment this year under a new plan to reduce hospital queues.

The outsourced operations will be paid for by the State-funded National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which is to spend €58m in a bid to cut some of the backlog of 71,205 public patients waiting for surgery.

Under the Government's waiting-list plan, to be unveiled by Health Minister Simon Harris this week, the 25,000 public patients will be chosen by their consultant.

The consultant will decide if they are clinically suitable to be referred for the NTPF-funded surgery, which will take place in a private hospital or a public hospital with spare capacity.

The patients, who will be contacted, will not pay anything towards their treatment. They must be waiting over six months and be in targeted specialities for which there is most demand.

These include cataracts, hip and knee replacements, tonsils, varicose veins, bladder examinations, skin lesions, plastic and general surgery, gallbladder removal, deviated septum operations and dental procedures.

Around 8,000 slots are to be offered to patients for other procedures, including squints and hernias.

In the second part of the initiative, the NTPF will spend another €6m to buy a private specialist consultation for 40,000 long waiters of 541,899 people on public outpatient lists.

The areas prioritised for outpatient care include ophthalmology, covering eye conditions, ear nose and throat problems, orthopaedics and dermatology.

The third part of the waiting-list plan will see €5m spent on private appointments for 21,423 public patients who are waiting for gastrointestinal scopes.

Irish Independent

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