Private hospitals welcome initiative to transfer private patients out of public hospitals

1 May 2017

A proposal by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare to transfer the responsibility of care for private patients from public hospitals to private ones has been welcomed by the Private Hospitals Associations (PHA). The PHA is confident the expanding capacity and expertise in the private system will allow pressure to be taken off the public system, leading to a long-term reduction in waiting lists.

In welcoming the suggestion from the Future of Healthcare Committee, Simon Nugent, the CEO of the PHA said: “It makes sense to take patients with private health insurance out of the public system and this initiative could be implemented very quickly indeed.” According to Mr Nugent, “the transfer of patients could commence in the first year of a new strategy rather than waiting until year two as suggested by the Committee.”

“Private hospitals have the cutting-edge diagnostics, beds, personnel at consultant level and the outcomes to justify such a move. We make approximately 1 million bed nights available to the Irish healthcare system each year and employ over 8,100 healthcare professionals across Ireland.”

“The growing capacity and range of specialities of the private system contrasts with that of its public counterpart. The public system has fewer beds than it did in 1980 and this initiative could free up much needed beds to help treat public patients. This would be a significant step in disentangling our mixed systems and helping patients access treatment quickly.”

“The process of healthcare reform can also help establish a level playing field between the private and public systems. We believe the current strategy of double-charging private patients for beds in public hospitals and charging private patients 10 times the public rate is a flawed one. This undermines confidence in the value of private health insurance and directly raises premiums. Such increases trigger a downgrading of policies, shifting demand back towards public hospitals.”

“Finally, the mid-term review of the Government’s Capital Plan offers an opportunity to stimulate more private sector investment as well as public capital in health infrastructure. Private providers stand willing to invest in additional beds, operating theatres and other facilities if there was policy certainty that a greater number of privately insured patients would be referred to such hospitals.”