Private Hospitals Association Welcomes Extra NTPF Funding for Waiting Lists
But Budget 2018 ‘A Missed Opportunity’ In Ignoring Key Sláintecare Recommendation
Responding to today’s Budget announcement, the Private Hospitals Association has welcomed the commitment to spend €50M on tackling waiting lists through the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF).
CEO Simon Nugent said “While acknowledging the €50m NTPF waiting list commitment for 2018 came in last year’s budget, it is regrettable that the Government has not committed to a further increase to at least €100M in 2019 and 2020 as we had called for in our pre-budget submission. Forward planning and multi-year funding is essential if we are to make a real impact on waiting list numbers which now stand at 679,000.
The reduction in prescription charges is a sensible move as recommended by the All Party Committee Sláintecare Report on the future of our health services. However, there is no evidence that Minister Donohue is planning to act on the core recommendation of the report to phase out private care in public hospitals. Public Hospitals are once again expected to bring in the same amount of private income in 2018 as in 2017 (€600 million). This will add to delays and waiting times and is an opportunity missed.
We congratulate Minister Harris in securing an increased commitment to capital spending on health care facilities. However there is no sign of plans for additional hospital beds. If Government wants to get new beds opened in the short and medium term, they should come and talk to the Private Hospital sector. We can move quickly to make beds available and to tackle the growing needs of an ageing population.
We note the Minister has made no move on tax relief for private health insurance. Health insurance premiums bring an extra €2Bn in cash into the health system. As premiums increase government should be increasing the eligibility for tax relief to nurture this important contribution to the health budget. The Private Hospitals Association had called for the ceiling on premiums eligible for relief to be raised from €1,000 to €1,200.
While there are some positive measures in today’s Budget, the government is refusing to truly grasp the nettle on the fundamental bottlenecks that continue to afflict our beleaguered health service”