Tuesday, 13 October 2020
Department of Health
533. To ask the Minister for Health the number of critical care beds available in the private healthcare system that would form part of a HSE deal with private sector hospitals to access their capacity in the event of a lack of public capacity; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [30171/20]
In anticipation of the projected surge in Covid-19 cases and the expected impact on the health care system a major part of the response was to urgently ramp up capacity for acute hospital care facilities. A critical element of the strategy was to put in place an arrangement with the private hospitals to use their facilities as part of the public system, to provide essential acute hospital services for the duration of the emergency. Following negotiations with the Private Hospitals Association an overarching agreement with the 18 private acute hospitals was agreed at the end of March. Under the agreement, the HSE secured 100% of the capacity of the private hospitals until the end of June. Initial indications are that the costs arising from this agreement will be in the region of €305 million euros (subject to verification).
Following termination of the agreement, the Government mandated the HSE to seek to agree with the private hospitals a new arrangement which would provide the HSE with access to private hospital capacity in the event of a surge of Covid-19 cases. Critical care capacity will be agreed as part of the negotiations, which remain on-going.
In addition, the HSE has initiated a procurement process to secure access to additional acute services and diagnostics from private providers which is required to address anticipated shortfall over the next two years. The process is likely to be completed by late October when a panel is expected to be in place. Following that, each hospital will run mini competitions for the services they need, and it is expected that those services will be in place in early to mid-November. In the meantime, I have approved a HSE temporary arrangement for the treatment of patients in private hospitals.