Private Hospitals Call For New Partnership With HSE To Address Systemic Capacity Problems In Acute Hospitals
Private Hospital Association Conference 25th November 2021
Minister, fellow speakers, members of the media and those watching our proceedings out there online.
You are all very welcome to this very important Private Hospitals Association conference, the theme of which is “A better way to deliver for patients” and for us in the Private Hospital Association it is all about our Patients
Can I begin by extending my thanks and those of all of the PHA members to John Hurley as our outgoing Chair – for the work he has done over the past 18 months in leading the Association through one of the most challenging periods the private hospital sector and indeed the Irish health sector has ever experienced.
Just to advise you that we are active on Twitter today – so if you see or hear anything that tweaks your interest please feel free to put it out there and don’t forget to tag us here at #PHAConf21
To everyone watching on the Vito platform – please be aware that we want this to be as interactive as possible and so during our panel sessions – you can submit questions to our speakers for a response – please use the Live Chat function to post questions and comments.
The last 20 months has been an extraordinary period of change for the economy, for us all as citizens, health sector workers and organisations.
Whilst it has been very challenging, it has also lead to many positive changes, where we have had to pivot, reinvent ourselves and work differently.
We have had to come together, to work collectively and collaboratively, in ways that might previously have been unimaginable.
While there can be few silver linings arising from the pandemic, one significant positive we can point to is the greater level of mutual understanding and appreciation that now exists between the Public and Private sector arising from our shared experience since March 2020 and how we have worked hard together, in the interest of patients, to combat Coronavirus
I believe this bodes well for the future – I detect a real willingness to work collaborating into the future with the shared goal of achieving better outcomes for patients.
“A BETTER WAY TO DELIVER FOR PATIENTS”
That is why the theme for our Conference is entitled “A better way to deliver for patients”.
Our focus this morning will be on the changing relationship between private hospitals and the wider health sector; the key lessons learned from Coronavirus; and the potential for the continuation of the partnership models we established during Covid with the aim of addressing the pressing and ongoing health needs of our population.
We will also look this morning at the evolving role of our health insurers and the impact on that sector of the events of the past 18 months and the characteristics of the market as things stand today.
NEW PARTNERSHIP OPPORTUNITIES
We will hear about current and future trends in private health care; how patient care will evolve over the next decade and the priorities for investment to ensure provision of the most up-to-date and appropriate treatments.
We will also look this morning at the evolving role of our health Insurers and the global trend of focusing on keeping people in good health, as well as making them better.
We have a great line up of speakers including healthcare providers, Insurers, economists, pharma and med-tech leaders – and I look forward to a morning of thought provoking presentations and lively debate.
We are delighted to have with us here today, our Minister for Health, Mr Stephen Donnelly, TD, and before I ask him to address the conference, I would like to make a few short remarks
PHA REITERATES SUPPORT FOR SLÁINTECARE
The Private Hospitals Association supports the government’s Sláintecare policy which aims to deliver a universal single-tier health system and to remove private healthcare from the public hospital system.
In the run up to today’s conference, the PHA commissioned independent research to gauge public understanding and support for Sláintecare, first published in 2017. The findings, which will be discussed in our second session – indicate conclusively that the public favour a joint approach be taken between the public and private system in tacking the big health challenges that exist today – such as reducing waiting lists and tackling capacity issues.
It is clear from the events of recent weeks that Coronavirus will be an ongoing concern into the future. The recent turnaround in our fortunes, after a period of such positive progress, is a stark reminder to us that things can never go back to the way they were.
PANDEMIC EXPOSES HEALTH VULNERABILITIES
The pandemic has exposed the gaps and vulnerabilities that exist within our health system – not least the need for additional bed and ICU capacity in our acute hospitals. While the government has committed under Sláintecare to the delivery of new bed – we know only too well that getting the team of people and the clinical expertise to deliver on that bed capacity, is the real challenge.
But there is another aspect to the capacity debate – for me it is about the need for flexibility and adaptability in respect of the capacity that already exists – across the public and private systems.
MAXIMISE EXISTING RESOURCES
PHA members employ 7,000 people and provide over 2,000 inpatient beds in 18 facilities across the country. Our hospitals offer over One Million bed nights to the healthcare system each year, caring for over 400,000 patients annually and carrying out over 250,000 surgical procedures
PRIVATE HOSPITALS CAN HELP ADDRESS SYSTEMIC CHALLENGES
Our message to you Minister is that the Private Hospitals Association stands ready when called on once again, to step up and provide whatever assistance we can to you, your Department and the HSE, not only to mitigate against the current surge in demand for beds and ICU, but to address the more systemic challenges within our health system.
HOSPITAL WAITING LISTS – A PROFOUND CONCERN
Perhaps the most significant outcome from the pandemic which saw a clear focus on Covid Patients, coupled with a significant reduction in capacity, exacerbated by the recent cyber-attack on the HSE, leading to cancelation of non-urgent elective surgeries and outpatient appointments – is the worrying increase in waiting list volumes and waiting times.
While public hospitals are making best efforts to reduce waiting lists and there is significant work ongoing in our private hospitals through the NTPF and HSE procurement, waiting list numbers continue to climb each month. With now over 900,000 people, waiting lists are now of profound concern and unless addressed will have significant impact on health outcomes.
Minister, it is vital that the public and private sectors work together to form a long-term partnership to tackle waiting lists. The PHA is today calling for a major joint effort to be initiated to address this problem. Much more can be done to draw on the capacity of our members nationwide than is currently the case.
The government will need to make a sustained commitment and demonstrate unswerving resolve to bring about meaningful change to this protracted problem and deliver on the targets set out in Sláintecare and deliver on manifesto promises. It is notable that 8 out of the 10 people we surveyed, indicated their preference for a joint approach to be taken to resolving this ongoing problem.
SLIDE 5– BULLET 3
We look forward to the promised Strategic Multi Annual Waiting List Plan that you are working on currently – this is something we have sought for many years, and also the promised Ministerial Taskforce to oversee this and we stand ready once again to assist in the country’s time of need.
Finally Minister, it is important to call out and recognise success. The achievements of your Department and the HSE in respect of the national vaccination programme have been commendable, and there is no doubt but that we would be in a much worse position today, were it not for the record vaccination rates achieved here in Ireland over the past 12 months
Minister, delegates and guests – thank you for your attention this morning. I am delighted to invite Minister Stephen Donnelly to now address the conference.