Minister for Health’s Inpatient Action Plan does not constitute value for money - Louise O'Reilly TD
Speaking this afternoon Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has poured cold water upon the Minister for Health’s Action Plan to reduce the number of patients on inpatient waiting lists, saying it does not represent value for money for the taxpayer and will only serve to inflate the coffers of private healthcare organisations.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Inpatient waiting lists stood at 79,039 patients as of the end of February with 21,932 patients waiting over 9 months for a procedure.
“The government have now published their Action Plan for reducing inpatient waiting lists. The plan is completely underwhelming for two intertwined reasons – it does not constitute value for money for the amount of procedures carried out relative to the estimated overall cost.
“The Action Plan seeks to syphon taxpayer’s money to private healthcare organisations for carrying out routine and simple procedures which should be carried out in public hospitals, but this cannot be done due to the government’s failure to invest in recruiting and retaining medical professionals as well as a lack of capacity due to underinvestment.
“The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), which the government will rely on to provide the majority of the treatment in private hospitals under the Action Plan, has been funded to the tune of €55 million.
“This €55 million will be spent essentially on providing routine treatment and surgeries in private hospitals. This in no way represents value for money for the taxpayer and will just be a case of public money lining the pockets of private interests.
“Furthermore, I must say that I am in no way confident of the numbers which the Minister believes his Action Plan can reduce the inpatient waiting list by.
"The best indication of future performance is past performance, and the Minister has proven time and time again he does not have the ideas to tackle waiting lists. Let us not forget that the Minister had an Action Plan last year for children with Scoliosis which was a complete failure and was abandoned at the start of this year.
“As Sara Burke of the Centre for Health Policy and Management in Trinity College has pointed out – 'over a decade of pouring hundreds of millions into the NTPF is proof it does not address the underlying causes of the long waits for public patients in the first place'.
“The government action plan does not do this and therefore does not represent a viable solution to the escalation waiting list crisis.”