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Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: I will take ten minutes. I thank our witnesses and their members, and all our healthcare workers who do a phenomenal job day in and day out. We have said many times that while it is very nice to get a round of applause in this House at 8 p.m. on a Thursday, it would be even nicer to have the decent pay and conditions, and the equipment needed to do their job. That must be our focus. The...

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: I thank Mr. Varley for his input. Unfortunately we are on a really tight schedule. Mr. Varley can see the clock; we have five minutes left. If I could bring in a speaker from the IMO, I have other questions I want to ask.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: That time, however, has been lost. The surge did not happen and we paid for the beds, but there was never a plan to utilise them in the event that the surge did not happen.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: It had not stepped up, according to our information, to beyond a maximum of 50% capacity in some instances, which does not-----

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: -----represent good value for money in anyone's mind. On the waiting lists, which were described as running at 800,000 cases, what is the likely impact of this deal on them? Will we see higher numbers and longer waits in the post-Covid environment? I will put that to Mr. Varley before Ms Clyne, if she does not mind.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: I am sorry to cut across Mr. Varley but that was the point I was making. There was no plan B-----

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: In the event that the capacity was not needed for the surge, there was no plan B. No attempt was made to get some value for money, however small it would have been, from the additional capacity. It was based on making preparation for a surge but there was no plan B in the event that the surge did not happen.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: There are only a few moments remaining so I will turn to Ms Clyne. On the issue of waiting lists, what will be the likely impact of this?

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: I thank the witnesses and everybody involved for their ongoing work. We fully appreciate how difficult this is for everybody involved and we know the effort that has gone in to date and which continues. It is possible this could be taken as a given but it is still important to say it nonetheless. My first question relates to the value-for-money element that is clearly absent from this...

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: That is before final payment but I presume it is after the money has been spent.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: Will Mr. Breslin share that information?

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: We will not know the cost of this until long after this deal concludes. Is that right?

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: We still do not know the final costs, so the figure could be higher in the end.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: We do not know that. Is it possible for Mr. Breslin to share the information in the economic analysis?

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: Okay. I heard the witnesses earlier compare this to making sure four fire tenders would be available. If we wanted a complete picture, we could say the conditions were created in advance for the fire to get out of control. That is the reason all of the additional capacity was needed. We had that discussion with the representatives of doctors and consultants this morning. On 24 March, an...

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: There were no officials from the OGP or the Department of Finance involved at that stage.

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: Was a maximum price set at that stage, given that the announcement had been made? Reference was made earlier to whether this deal was good value for money, and I believe that is what people want to know. In making the announcement when the deal had not been concluded, the officials did not put themselves in a great position to do a deal that was good value for money. I say that...

Special Committee on Covid-19 Response: Use of Private Hospitals (Resumed) (2 Jun 2020)

Louise O'Reilly: I am not suggesting that it could have been done in secret. What I am suggesting is that going out to make an announcement before the actual deal was done would have hindered Mr. Breslin in getting good value for money. It has become very apparent that value for money was not an issue. We will not know the final cost of this, and I think that will be fairly worrying for many people. ...

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