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Minister Donnelly Welcomes Agreement with Private Hospitals

Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD has, this evening, welcomed the agreement between 16 private hospitals and the HSE to provide additional hospital capacity to HSE, to deal with the surge in Covid-19 cases and any further surges in the pandemic, if they arise within the next 12 months. 

Minister Donnelly said: “I am delighted that this agreement has been reached and note that the HSE was still in ongoing constructive engagement with the one remaining private hospital, which is already providing service to the public system.”

Under the agreement, the hospitals have agreed to supply, depending on the incidence of the disease, up to 30 per cent of their capacity. The agreement also provides for additional capacity to be made available by mutual agreement and a number of hospitals have already indicated that they might be willing to offer such capacity if required. 

Minister Donnelly said: “I am keenly aware of the excellent local relationships that already exist between public and private hospitals and know that a number of the private hospitals have already begun to make arrangements to take on public patients over the coming days.”  

“The additional capacity created by this agreement is critical to enabling the public health system cope with large scale surges in the incidences of the disease.” 

I would like to thank the private hospitals for their support in the national effort to deal with the current surge in the pandemic. I would also like to thank the VHI, which, at the HSE’s request has agreed to administer the scheme for public patients.”

 Notes to Editor

  • Following termination of the original private hospital agreement in June, the Government mandated the HSE to seek to agree with the private hospitals a new arrangement which would provide the HSE with access to private hospital capacity to include a new safety net arrangement for any further surge of Covid-19 cases.
  • Discussions are still under way with the remaining  hospital.
  • Importantly the agreement reflects lessons from the original private hospital agreement which was in place in April, May and June of last year.
  • The arrangement has an overarching agreement which will be in place for 12 months, during which safety net measures would be invoked in the event of Covid-19 surges.
  • The HSE will be responsible for invoking the safety net arrangement. The decision will be determined on the basis of metrics which objectively indicate that a Covid-19 surge event is imminent or present.
  • The metrics cover the level of community transmission, the number of hospital beds in the public system occupied by Covid-19 patients and the number of ICU beds in the public system occupied by Covid-19 patients.
  • The agreement will see the private hospitals provide a full service including medical services and they will be reimbursed at the standard commercial rate.
  • The agreement would allow for the ongoing treatment of private patients and the operation of the traditional private healthcare market alongside the provisions of this arrangement, insofar as is commensurate with the requirements of the overall national pandemic response.
  • The agreement will also enable a local relationship between private hospitals and public hospitals in each area, which should result in a more streamlined service for both hospitals and patients.