Wednesday, 20 May 2020
Department of Health
785. To ask the Minister for Health when private consultants will be able to start to schedule appointments and resume scheduling of procedures, in particular those which were cancelled due to the Covid-19 crisis; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6705/20]
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic the HSE had to take measures to defer all non-urgent elective scheduled care activity, including outpatient clinics. This was to ensure patient safety and that all appropriate resources were made available for COVID-19 related activity and time-critical essential work. This decision was in line with the Government’s Action Plan in Response to Covid-19 published on 16 March and the recommendation by NPHET. The NPHET has now recommended that steps be taken to resume non-urgent scheduled care in the context of the safe care guidelines set drawn up by its Expert Advisory Group. The HSE is currently examining how best to resume on non-urgent scheduled care work in line with these guidelines.
Under the Heads of Terms of the agreement between the HSE and the private hospitals the HSE has access to 100% of the capacity of those hospitals and they are linked with the Hospital Group for their region. Consultants who work wholly for the private hospitals have been offered temporary locum public patient only (Type A) contracts for the duration of the arrangement. Under the agreement all patients who are being treated in the hospitals will be treated as public patients and will prioritised based on clinical needs. It is envisaged that the private hospitals will play a role in the resumption of non-urgent scheduled care work.
The agreement runs initially for 3 months from the beginning of April. The HSE is currently reviewing the operation of the arrangement with a view to deciding whether or not to extend it.