Dáil debates

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Ceisteanna - Questions

Cabinet Committees

1:32 pm

Photo of Ivana BacikIvana Bacik (Dublin Bay South, Labour) | Oireachtas source

I thank the Taoiseach for the outline. I want to ask about the Government's spending on temporarily renting private beds in private hospitals. The Labour Party has continually advocated for expanding public healthcare by purchasing private hospitals outright. We are conscious that with the Covid plans, the Government essentially, at one point, took over full capacity of the private system. We now have this arrangement for leasing. We know that this arrangement cost the taxpayer €350 million between March and June 2020, and that a deal is currently in place with private hospitals should there be a need for them to manage capacity. How much is being spent on this temporary renting out of private beds in private hospitals? We have argued that the money would be better used to permanently expand our public capacity in a bid to tackle our ever-growing waiting lists, which we are all conscious of, our ageing population and the ongoing, devastating battle with the Covid pandemic.

Sláintecare calls for the building of three elective hospitals. This part of Sláintecare is essential to deliver the massive, radical reforms that out healthcare system so badly needs. It would surely be much better and more efficient to use the resources already available, by buying the hospitals to fulfil that key Sláintecare recommendation to support our healthcare service through the pandemic and beyond. We know 50% of the population has private health insurance. This expense is built on a fear that the public system will not be able to care for us and will not have the necessary capacity if we fall sick. Looking at European neighbours and at how other countries are coping with Covid, we think that now would be the best time to prepare our healthcare system. I ask the Taoiseach about the spending on private beds.


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