Tuesday, 21 June 2016
I will be very brief. I will not even be one minute. Firstly, I congratulate the Minister on his appointment and thank him for yet again coming into the Seanad.
There is clearly not much mention of the National Treatment Purchase Fund in the programme for Government. In the past it has demonstrated itself as being a very able, efficient and very focused group. Under this new Government arrangement it was somewhat tapered and called the special delivery unit within the Department of Health. It was a sort of stand-alone operation in Tara House on Tara Street. I do not know whether it has now been subsumed altogether into the Department itself, but there is room to explore and consider the capacity of the National Treatment Purchase Fund to access blocks of really good competitive deals in both the private and public sectors. Let us not fear the private sector and the synergies between the private and the public sectors. What people want is fast treatment, and the person who has been waiting the longest needs to come first. That is the issue. I would therefore like the Minister at some stage or other, not necessarily today, during one of his trips to this Chamber, to elaborate on where he sees the role and the potential for expansion of the National Treatment Purchase Fund.