Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Health
A major part of the Government's Action Plan in response to Covid-19 was to substantially increase the capacity of public healthcare facilities to cope with the anticipated additional demand. In order to urgently ramp up capacity for acute care facilities, an arrangement was agreed with the private hospitals to use their facilities as part of the public system on a temporary basis, to provide essential services. A Heads of Terms of Agreement between the HSE and the Private Hospitals was agreed at the end of March 2020 and all 18 of the acute private hospitals signed up to it. Under the arrangement, all patients in the private hospitals are treated as public patients and their treatment is prioritised based on clinical need. Provision was made under the agreement to allow for continuity of care for patients who were in a private hospital or attending for treatment at the time the Heads of Terms of Agreement were agreed, on the grounds that these patients would be treated as public patients.
The agreement was reviewed at the end of May and the Government decided that the existing arrangement should not be extended beyond the end of June. It has however mandated the HSE to negotiate a new arrangement with private hospitals which would provide the HSE with full access to private hospital capacity in the event of a surge of Covid-19 and separately with ongoing agreed access, to enable the HSE to meet essential and elective care needs
The HSE advise that the available capacity in private hospitals was primarily used to support the provision of non-COVID related care for time- dependent treatments and procedures to patients, including areas such as cancer and cardiovascular surgeries, transplant surgery, chemotherapy, radiological tests and procedures. The range and type of procedures that can be undertaken has been expanded in line with NPHET guidance.
The National Office of Clinical Audit (NOCA) Critical Care Information System was extended to Private Providers to support tracking of COVID related cases. The HSE have advised my Department that the data available shows that 7 such cases were admitted to Critical Care in Private Hospitals.