Importance of Private Hospital Care highlighted to Oireachtas Committee
Wednesday 18 January. The Private Hospitals Association (PHA) today briefed the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare on the extent of care provided by member hospitals every year.
Addressing the Committee, PHA CEO Simon Nugent said “Our hospitals employ over 8,000 staff and provide 2,500 beds for patients on an ongoing basis. This enables us to provide 250,000 in-patient procedures, 3 million diagnostic tests, over one million bed nights to patients, and 10% of Ireland’s inpatient mental health care annually.
Mr Nugent said that about 50% of all elective procedures in Ireland last year were performed in members’ hospitals and that members’ Emergency Departments treated at least 1,000 patients every week.
The PHA has urged the Committee, which is charged with developing a long term vision of health care, to acknowledges the mixed nature of provision in Ireland including the significant proportion of care delivered by private hospitals and to offer a strategic vision of healthcare in Ireland in 10 years’ time that recognises the benefits of this mixed delivery system and provides a stable environment for investment in the sector.
A copy of the PHA’s submission (August 2016) to the committee can be found here
The following is the full text of Mr Nugent’s opening statement to the committee on Wednesday 18 January 2017
Thank you Chairperson
I am the Chief Executive of the Private Hospitals Association which represents 19 private Hospitals located in 10 counties across Ireland.
I’m joined today by my colleague, Brian Fitzgerald. Deputy Chief Executive of one of our members – the Beacon Hospital. Brian has extensive experience in hospital management in both public and private sectors and who will offer his own insight into the potential for the future of healthcare.
Members will have received the Association’s submission of last August which sets out the extent of acute medical and mental health care provided in private hospitals in Ireland. We employ over 8,000 staff and provide 2,500 beds for patients on an ongoing basis. This enables us to provide 250,000 in-patient procedures, 3 million diagnostic tests, over one million bed nights to patients, and 10% of Ireland’s inpatient mental health care annually.
We estimate that 50% of all elective procedures in Ireland last year were performed in our members’ hospitals.
In addition, half of our hospitals operate either Emergency Departments or Medical Assessment Units which in total see more than one thousand patients each week, admitting at least 250 of these patients, thus providing an estimated 100,000 bed nights of medical care to patients admitted on an emergency basis each year.
I highlight these numbers because they illustrate the scale of care provided by private hospitals which, in our absence, would fall upon the state and the public system as an additional burden.
Earlier in 2016 the Association made proposals to the Department of Health aimed at fostering closer partnership between the public and private systems in the coming years. We believe there is scope for closer collaboration on several fronts – reducing waiting lists, tackling emergency department overcrowding, recruiting health care professionals and a strategic approach to capital planning. We are working through several of these ideas at present with the Department of Health.
One welcome innovation has been the reintroduction of the National Treatment Purchase Fund and, while the resources available to be spent in 2017 are modest, PHA members will be able to respond and provide treatment to some of the longest waiting patients on public lists over the coming months. Earlier treatment of those on waiting lists is obviously important for patients but also brings significant savings to the exchequer as increasing complexity of conditions is avoided.
Looking forward, the PHA would encourage the Committee to take a “whole of system” approach to planning the future of healthcare, acknowledging the scope for partnership in delivery between public and private systems taking into account the contribution that private hospitals already make, the modern infrastructure in which we have invested and continue to invest, the highly skilled personnel working in our hospitals and the capacity we have to work with the public system – hospital groups, CHOs etc.
In conclusion, as set out in more detail in our submission, the Association recommends that the Committee:
- Acknowledges the mixed nature of health care provision in Ireland and the significant proportion of care delivered by private hospitals;
- Offers a strategic vision of healthcare in Ireland in 10 years’ time that recognises the benefits of this mixed delivery system and provides a stable environment for investment in the sector;
- Focuses on how, as primary care services develop, they can integrate successfully with all providers of hospital care;
- Places due emphasis on the issues of health sector recruitment and the need for sustained focus on attracting nurses, doctors and other clinical specialists to work in Ireland by establishing an Expert Skills Group on the Medical Professions;
- Supports the importance of investment in eHealth initiatives as an important enabler of truly joined up healthcare;
- Supports closer cooperation on patient care between public and private systems during the transition period between now and 2026.