16 May 2020
By Bryan Smyth
Private hospital capacity should be utilised to ensure patients with critical conditions receive vital surgeries and treatments – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said that the underutilised additional capacity acquired by the HSE through the agreement with private hospitals should be used to ensure that patients with critical illnesses, such as cancer and cardiac conditions, receive the hospital care they need.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said;
“The additional capacity acquired through the arrangement with the private hospital network is costing the state over €115 million per month. This capacity was initially acquired in readiness for a surge in Covid-19 cases. The surge has not transpired and therefore we are using considerably less than half of the extra capacity that the state has obtained at significant expense.
“Serious concerns are being expressed by the medical profession that urgent non-Covid patients are not receiving the acute hospital care they need, treatment or surgeries and that their conditions could worsen needlessly as a result. We also see emerging research that is raising the alarm regarding the possibility of a significant backlog of surgeries that have been cancelled due to the pandemic. We are all aware of the bulging treatment waiting lists that existed before the Covid-19 emergency. so we should be doing everything that we can to ensure that this problem is not compounded.
“Therefore, there is a serious need for the capacity which the State has bought in the private sector to be put to maximum use before the deal ends on June 30th.
“The agreement entered into with the private hospital network by the government, while a necessary step in preparing for a Covid-19 surge, has not represented value for money for the people. However, it would be inexcusable not to use what has already been paid for while patients go without much needed care.
“These facilities need to be put to use immediately to reduce inpatient and outpatient waiting lists, specifically focusing on cancer care, time-dependent surgery, and National Treatment Purchase Fund of which work which these hospitals have previous experience.”