Patients will have to wait a decade for any new elective hospitals while action is needed now on cutting hospital waiting lists
The Private Hospitals Association welcomes the publication of the Sláintecare Implementation Strategy, but has expressed concern at the Government’s slow rate of implementation to date and in particular the delay in the De Buitléir Review Group bringing forward recommendations on the removal of private practice from public hospitals.
While PHA welcomes the release of the implementation strategy, the lack of clarity surrounding the separation of public and private healthcare is regrettable and will further frustrate the over-arching aims of this plan to reform the entirety of the health service.
A clear statement of intent by the Government in this regard would provide certainty to the sector, signal new investment and new infrastructure and enable our member hospitals to plan strategically for the future health requirements of private patients in this country.
In addition, Minister Harris’s commitment to build 3 new elective hospitals as the State’s antidote to addressing record waiting lists is too long-term a solution for such an immediate crisis within our health service – it will take years if not a decade to deliver on, yet more immediate and substantive action is urgently required if we are to significantly reduce the existing monthly waiting list figures.
There are over 700,000 people in the public system today waiting for a hospital appointment or treatment and that will remain the case unless NTPF funding is significantly increased. PHA’s network of 18 available private hospitals around the country carry out 250,000 theatre procedures annually and offer over 1,000,000 bed nights to the Irish healthcare system. PHA members have shown in the past they have the capacity to make substantial inroads into these lists when called upon.
The State should prioritise certain actions to help clear the backlog of patients and this includes formal structures of collaborative engagement between the HSE and PHA to achieve efficient outcomes and increased NTPF financing.
The Private Hospitals Association has been consistent in calling for the development of a multi-annual strategy in this regard. This would give Private Hospitals greater certainty and deliver a sustainable reduction in waiting lists that could bring Ireland to within European norms for hospital waiting times.