Written answers

Wednesday, 20 May 2020

Department of Health

Hospital Consultant Contracts

Patricia Ryan (Kildare South, Sinn Fein)
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794. To ask the Minister for Health if consultants are prohibited from caring for their private patients if they sign the new public consultants contract; his plans to ensure continuity of treatment; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6803/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Under the terms of the agreement between the HSE and the private hospitals, provision has been made to ensure continuity of care for patients who were in a private hospital or receiving a course of treatment when the Heads of Terms for the arrangement was agreed.  There are a number of principals underpinning the arrangement, including that for the duration of the arrangement the private hospitals will be used to treat public patients only and that they or the consultants working in the hospitals, will not be able to charge fees.

 Consultants who work wholly for the private hospitals have been offered temporary locum public patient only (Type A) contracts..  The patients who are being treated in the hospitals will be treated as public patients and will prioritised based on clinical needs as with any other public patient. The patients will remain under the care of their existing consultant, if the consultant is already employed by the HSE or if the consultant is a whole-time private practice practitioner who accepts the HSE’s offer of a temporary contract.

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 National Action Plan in Response to Covid-19 and the recommendation of NPHET. NPHET has now recommended that steps be taken to resume non-urgent scheduled care in the context of the safe care guidelines set out by its Expert Advisory Group and it is envisaged that private hospitals will play a key role in providing this care.

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