Consultants at new children’s hospital will have to pay to use facilities

Consultants will also face ‘operational costs’ bill for seeing private patients at the hospital

The Department of Health has confirmed that it is proposed consultants with private practice rights will be charged for the use of private rooms when the new hospital opens. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The Department of Health has confirmed that it is proposed consultants with private practice rights will be charged for the use of private rooms when the new hospital opens. Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

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Hospital consultants working in the planned new national children’s hospital will have to pay fees to the State to use facilities on the premises to see private patients.

The Department of Health has confirmed that it is proposed consultants with private practice rights will be charged for the use of private rooms when the new hospital opens.

They will also face a bill for other “operational costs” for seeing private patients at the new hospital.

The proposed level of fees to be applied has not yet been determined.

Highly placed health service sources said the move would represent a change of policy by the Government as similar charges do not apply to consultants with rights to treat private patients in other public hospitals.

Medical sources maintained that provision for any such charges would have to be put in place as part of changes to consultants’ contracts with the State.

Sláintecare reform

The Government has come under pressure recently about the inclusion of private facilities in the design of the new national children’s hospital, given it is stated official policy to end the treatment of fee-paying patients in public hospitals.

The removal of private medicine from public hospitals is a key element of the Sláintecare health reforms.

However the Government has argued that at present it has a contractual obligation to prepare for provision of private practice in the planned new national children’s hospital.

In an answer to a parliamentary question from Roderic O’Gorman of the Green Party in March the Minister for Health Simon Harris said under the contract agreed in 2008 some consultants could only see private outpatients on the site of the hospital in which they worked.

“As a result, private outpatient clinics may be held on public hospital campuses but these clinics must be held outside contracted hours. Private clinics are currently located on the grounds of each the existing three children’s hospitals.

“The new children’s hospital is obliged to provide such facilities for consultants holding such contracts. Accordingly, while the vast majority of services in the new children’s hospital will be public services, within the new hospital an area has been planned which carries the designation of ‘private clinic’.

“The private outpatient clinic at the new children’s hospital represents circa 0.25 per cent of the clinical space within the new children’s hospital. There are a total of 129 outpatient clinical exam rooms primarily accessed off the main concourse on the ground and lower ground floor of the new children’s hospital, each of which are identical in design and fit out. There are eight clinical exam rooms in the private outpatient clinic,” Mr Harris said.