Public-private hospital agreement reached

The Government has reached agreement with the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) to use their facilities for the treatment of both COVID-19 and non-COVID 19 patients during the current pandemic crisis.

According to the Taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, the plan "is to use private hospitals as part of the public system as a partnership on a temporary basis to provide essential services".

"Private hospitals may also be used to undertake urgent non-COVID-19 elective procedures being transferred to these facilities, in order to free up capacity in our major public hospitals," he explained.

There are 19 private hospitals in Ireland, with an inpatient and day bed capacity of over 2,500. These hospitals also have 1,000 single-patient inpatient rooms, "which will be very useful for isolation", the Taoiseach noted.

The sector also has 194 ventilators and nine laboratories, "which will all be available for our use", Mr Varadkar said.

"This additional capacity will be critically important in dealing with the pandemic. Under this agreement, the HSE will secure 100% of the capacity of private hospitals. The private hospitals will operate as public hospitals for the duration, treating both COVID-19 and other patients, and all patients treated in private hospitals under this arrangement will be public patients," the Taoiseach said.

Consultants who currently only work in private practice will be offered a locum type A contract for the duration of the arrangement. Any private-only consultants who do not accept this contract will be unable to practise in the hospital for the duration of the emergency.

This arrangement will initially be in place for a three-month period, but with an option to extend it if necessary "on a mutually agreed basis".

The PHA said that this is the right decision to take in the interests of public health at a time of national crisis.

According to PHA chairperson, Dr Josh Keaveny, PHA members "recognised from the outset the unprecedented challenge that the COVID-19 pandemic would present to the country's acute hospital infrastructure and immediately offered to play their part in the national effort to deal with the expected surge in demand for additional capacity".

"The association has worked intensively and in good faith to arrive at this agreement and will work in close partnership with the HSE in optimising private and public hospital capacity throughout the country in response to this unprecedented situation during the COVID-19 pandemic period," he added.

 

[Posted: Tue 31/03/2020]

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