National Treatment Purchase Fund


Madam, - The National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has a budget of of €100 million in taxpayers' money for 2008.

According to the NTPF's latest report, some 20,000 "in-patients" were treated in 2007 at a cost of €92 million. The report does not provide precise details of the procedures performed or of their individual cost, but at least two-thirds of the procedures listed, such as endoscopy, tonsillectomy and dental extraction, would normally be carried out as day-case procedures, which are relatively inexpensive.

Some 10,000 out-patient consultations and some 2,000 MRI scans were also provided. Excluding the out-patients, the cost per in-patient treated was therefore €4,600. Four private hospitals shared €49 million of the fund.

The Mid-Western Regional Hospital complex in Limerick, which includes three hospitals - the Regional Hospital, the Regional Maternity Hospital and Croom Orthopaedic Hospital - has a budget of €195 million. In 2007, it treated 33,000 genuine in-patients, about 75 per cent of which were emergency cases, of all levels of complexity, and 19,000 day-case "in-patients"; 29,000 new out-patients were seen along with 109,000 review out-patients. Again excluding this massive out-patient activity, the cost per-inpatient treated was €3,750.

There is something radically wrong here. On the basis of these numbers and the case mix, the NTPF figures suggest a waste of, at the very minimum, €20 million.

Those who are committed to eroding our public hospital system in favour of creeping privatisation might take note. - Yours, etc,

Dr GERRY BURKE, Riverside Clinic, Steamboat Quay, Limerick.