Dáil Éireann - Volume 680 - 09 April, 2009
Written Answers. - National Treatment Purchase Fund.
Deputy Joe McHugh Deputy Joe McHugh
Deputy Joe McHugh asked the Minister for Health and Children if she will prioritise a review of the National Treatment Purchase Fund and the consultants’ contracts in view of ongoing budgetary constraints on hospitals and health care providers; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [14983/09]
Deputy Mary Harney Deputy Mary Harney
Deputy Mary Harney: I have no plans to review the statutory remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF). The Fund has submitted its proposals for activity levels in 2009 and these are currently the subject of discussion with my Department. In line with Government policy, the NTPF must, of course, achieve optimum value for money in discharging its remit. The Fund will continue in 2009 to arrange in-patient and out-patient care for persons on hospital waiting lists. At my request, the NTPF, working with the HSE and the hospitals, will maintain a particular focus again this year on reducing the number of persons waiting for more than twelve months for treatment. I am pleased to say that, as a result of the efforts made by all concerned during 2008, the total number of persons  waiting over 12 months was reduced by 66%, from 4637 to 1576 between December 2007 and December 2008.
Last December I indicated that I was not prepared to sanction salary increases for consultants who signed up to the new consultants’ contract until I was satisfied that reformed work practices were being implemented and there was a demonstrable benefit to the public health system.
The HSE has since undertaken a verification exercise, the results of which show that the majority of consultants are demonstrably engaged in the implementation of new work practices. In the light of the HSE’s findings, I intend that this contract will be honoured because it is fundamental to changing the manner in which our public hospitals operate.
The commencement of payment of the new contract rates for medical consultants will be addressed in the context of decisions which I will be making on the HSE Service Plan within the next two weeks.
Dáil Éireann 680 Written Answers. National Treatment Purchase Fund.