Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Health Billy Kelleher has today expressed serious concerns about the lack of information being provided by the Minister for Health on the setting up of a new agency called the Special Delivery Unit (SDU) taking over the role of the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) in tackling waiting lists.
He commented, “Any efforts to build on the work of the NTPF and further reduce waiting lists are important, but we are extremely concerned at the lack of information being provided today by the Minister for Health in relation to funding for the new unit and how this could impact on patients and waiting lists.
“The Minister provided no details today on how the unit will be funded other than that funds from the NTPF will be diverted to the new unit. However, on RTE’s Six One News he muddied the waters further and appeared to signal that the NTPF may continue to take applications, even after the establishment of this new quango.
“There was no information today on how long it will take for the SDU to be set up. We are concerned that patients will be faced with further delays while this SDU is being set up and how long it will be before the unit starts having an impact on waiting lists? Will patients be faced with increased waiting lists in the meantime? Without this information, all we know is that it looks like another level of bureaucracy is being introduced, and that would be a retrograde step.
“Today’s announcement raises a number of serious questions that must be urgently addressed by the Minister. The last thing people want is a repeat of the Nursing Home Support Scheme funding crisis in which patients were left in the dark while the Minister and the HSE rushed to grab headlines.
Deputy Kelleher concluded, “I am calling on the Minister to demonstrate that there is a real plan in place and that there is sufficient funding to make the SDU a success. Under the NTPF the last Government cut waiting lists for many procedures and over 200,000 patients have received treatment under the fund. This hard won progress must not be squandered.”