Updated / Tuesday, 2 Jun 2020 06:14
A stark difference of opinion on the Government decision to rent 19 private hospitals to help tackle the coronavirus is due to be aired later today at the Dáil Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association will describe the €115 million per month deal as “very poor value for money”, however, the Health Service Executive will argue there were “very substantive benefits”.
The State’s arrangement with private hospitals is due to conclude at the end of the month, following a Cabinet decision last week, but the merits of renting 19 private hospitals is still very much a live issue.
A three-page submission to the committee from the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, which represents 95% of consultants, states: “The test of time has confirmed that the private hospital agreement represents very poor value for money from patient care and taxpayer perspectives.”
The ICHA claims the deal led to the accumulation on waiting lists of a large number of non-Covid patients requiring urgent care and there is an additional risk these patients will “deteriorate clinically” and “increasingly evolve into emergency cases”.
However, in a seven-page submission, the HSE National Director for Acute Operations, Liam Woods, will point to “very substantive benefits” from renting private hospitals – despite what he terms the “unique nature of the initiative and its relatively short existence”.
Mr Woods cites four examples: much needed capacity against a Covid-19 surge; capacity to maintain essential services to non-Covid but time dependent surgery and treatment; safe environments for patients and staff; and the ability to address the extensive build-up of displaced work.