Healthcare report ‘bogged down in ideology’, say private hospitals

Private Hospitals’ Association says State must take wider view of health assets

Chief executive of the Private Hospitals’ Association Simon Nugent:  the committee spent “too much time obsessed with publicly owned delivery systems rather than taking a holistic view of the overall health assets in the State”.  Photograph: Shane O’Neill

Chief executive of the Private Hospitals’ Association Simon Nugent: the committee spent “too much time obsessed with publicly owned delivery systems rather than taking a holistic view of the overall health assets in the State”. Photograph: Shane O’Neill

 

The €5.8 billion healthcare plan proposed by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare appears to have become “bogged down in ideology”, the representative body for privately funded hospitals said.

The Report on the Future of Healthcare, published on Tuesday, calls for free GP care and free hospital care for all, as well as cuts to or abolition of health charges.

A cross-party committee agreed a vision of a universal single-tier health and social care system to replace the current mix of public and private.

Responding to the report, the Private Hospitals’ Association (PHA) said it had missed an opportunity to provide for a public-private partnership that would make progress quickly for patients.

Chief executive of the PHA Simon Nugent said the committee had spent “too much time obsessed with publicly owned delivery systems rather than taking a holistic view of the overall health assets in the State”.

“The report is fixated on public hospitals and public health systems while a highly efficient private system is ignored even though it operates alongside it with a similar spread of services across the country,” he said.

“The committee appears to have got bogged down with ideology. It has put philosophy over practicality.”

Public vs private

Mr Nugent said it was disappointing the committee had not decided to partner the public and private systems of healthcare for patients “to make real progress quickly for those waiting longest for treatment”.

“I would urge that the mid-term review of the Government’s capital plan doesn’t make the same mistake this summer,” he added.

Mr Nugent said the Government needed to take a wider view of the totality of health assets in the State.

“It is in the Government’s interest to stimulate more private sector investment as well as public capital in health infrastructure. In the appropriate policy environment, private providers stand willing to invest in additional beds, operating theatres and other facilities to care for public and private patients,” he said.

Insurance Ireland, which represents the industry, said private health insurers played an important role in supporting the healthcare system in Ireland.

“Over 2.15 million people have private health insurance and the private health insurance companies pay in the region of 1.5 million claims each year,” the body said. “While all citizens have a right to avail of public health services, those willing to pay for private health insurance are not solely reliant on the public health system, thereby contributing to its operational and financial sustainability to the tune of approximately €649 million per annum, or 12.7 per cent of its funding.”

Insurance Ireland said it noted the report and would review the document before providing any detailed commentary.