Beacon Hospital records loss of nearly €2m despite 7% rise in revenue

Turnover at private hospital rose to €152.2m last year, accounts show

The Beacon private hospital in Sandyford recorded a 7 per cent increase in its revenue last year but slipped into the red due to higher costs associated with the impact of Covid-19 and the fact that the hospital’s capacity was handed over to the Health Service Executive for a three-month period on a “cost recovery” basis.

Latest accounts for Beacon Medical Group Sandyford Ltd show that it made a loss for the year to the end of December 2020 of just under €2 million. This compared with a profit of €1.8 million in 2019.

Turnover at the hospital, which is 80 per cent owned by businessman Denis O’Brien, rose to €152.2 million last year from €142.5 million in 2019. Its cost of sales increased by €10 million in the year to €106.7 million while its administrative expenses rose by almost almost €3 million to €41.8 million.

Its operating profit roughly halved to €3.7 million as a “result of the agreement with the Health Services Executive between 30 March and 30 June to provide additional capacity to the public health system on cost recovery basis”.


The directors state in the accounts that they were “proud of its contribution to the national effort” in 2020, with more than 20,000 public patients treated at the hospital last year.

Since restarting its private health services on July 1st, 2020, “practically all hospital services have seen record growth and activity levels have surpassed those before Covid”, the directors state.

In January of this year, the Beacon signed a second agreement with the HSE that will last for 12 months to act as a “surgical centre of excellence” for the public health service. Some 1,000 patients had been treated under this deal as of May 25th, 2021.

The hospital’s staff numbers increased to 1,084 employees from 905 during the year, with its bill for wages and salaries rising to €57.3 million from €51.7 million. Directors’ salaries amounted to €511,250 while directors’ fees were €225,000.


Beacon hit the headlines earlier this year when it emerged that about 20 teachers from St Gerard’s School in Bray were vaccinated ahead of their place on the official priority list. They went to the hospital on March 23rd from the private school, which was attended by some of Beacon Hospital chief executive Michael Cullen’s children. This was at a time when the vaccination programme in the country was being rolled out and the economy was subject to strict lockdown restrictions.

A HSE report into the issue later concluded that the Beacon had not considered alternative people or groups who were higher up the official sequencing list.

Some €38 million was invested by Beacon in new and expanded facilities, with the hospital acquiring the neighbouring Beacon hotel in 2020. It recently lodged a planning application for permission to add a 70-bed extension on the site of the hotel as part of an eight-storey building that would include new emergency department and cancer care facilities and associated inpatient treatment rooms.

Some 70 owners and tenants of nearby apartments submitted objections to the extension.

At the end of 2020, the hospital group owed €129.5 million to a company controlled by Mr O’Brien. Some €153,125 was paid in management services fees last year to Island Capital Management Ltd, a company owned by Mr O’Brien.

Opened in October 2006, the Beacon has 218 acute care beds and nine operating theatres. The hospital recorded more than 150,000 patient visits in 2020.

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock

Ciarán Hancock is Business Editor of The Irish Times

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy

Eoin Burke-Kennedy is Economics Correspondent of The Irish Times