National Development Plan Is a Missed Opportunity for Delivery of Acute Health Facilities
No solace soon for 10% of Irish population currently on patient waiting lists
Government Guarantee Needed to Make Public Hospitals for Public Patients Only
16 February. A 10-year timeline for the delivery of any new acute hospital facilities promised under the National Planning Framework offers little solace to the hundreds of thousands of people currently languishing on public waiting lists, according to the Private Hospitals Association. Meanwhile the Government has failed to consider the real potential of the private sector to deliver new hospital beds quicker.
A PHA spokesperson says the bed capacity crisis and lengthening public waiting lists means there is an undeniable imperative on this government to act now: “The proposals for new acute infrastructure are a missed opportunity to bridge the bed capacity cap that currently exists due to historic under-investment. Meanwhile Government is side-stepping the urgency of the current crisis.
“While the commitment to deliver 2,600 new hospital beds, 3 new elective hospitals and 4500 new community beds is very welcome, it is long overdue and by the time it eventually comes on stream, it will still fall short of what’s needed to bridge the bed capacity gap at that time. While rightly planning for a growing and ageing population over the next decade, it has overlooked the fact that our population already grew by 1 million since 1998 – with virtually no additional acute capacity added in that time.
The Private Hospital sector can play a unique role in expediting the delivery of the new hospital buildings, surgical facilities and hospital beds that are so badly required within our acute network. When the Sláintecare Report was released in May 2017, we welcomed the proposals to remove private practice from public hospitals as an example of impactful reform. Private hospitals currently provide care for over 400,000 patients annually – but have the potential to deliver much more. The Government has the opportunity of an early win on bed capacity by simply requesting our members to add new beds in the private system – this can happen in a fraction of the time it would take for a new public bed to come on stream.
The Private Hospitals Association is calling for an unambiguous declaration by the government to remove private patients from the public health system. Such a commitment is necessary to secure investor confidence and would trigger a new wave of investment that would add significant additional capacity within the private hospital sector over a few short years. In a submission to the Review of Private Practice in Public Hospitals last week the PHA said it anticipated a significant increase in demand for private healthcare arising from the implementation of the Sláintecare recommendations.