More co-ordination needed between private and public hospitals, says Varadkar

Hospitals could be built by private sector then leased for public use, says Minister

Greater co-ordination is needed between private and public hospitals over the provision of new facilities, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said.

New hospitals could be built by the private sector and then leased for public use, he suggested. Private hospitals should also be offered the opportunity to join the newly formed public hospital groups.

Mr Varadkar was speaking at the launch of an initiative that will see student doctors at UCD trained at the Beacon Hospital, in what is the biggest involvement yet by a private hospital in medical training.

He said excellent medical infrastructure around the country was not being used and it might make more sense to have a “joined-up” system of capital development.


It was “bizarre” that a public hospital was planning to build a radiology department where there was one in a private facility “next door”.

UCD and Beacon, which is owned by businessman Denis O’Brien, today announced the UCD Beacon Hospital Academy, which will see 20 medical students from the college start clinical training in the hospital next September.

The move is part of the creation of the UCD Beacon Hospital Academy for educating healthcare students in medicine, nursing, physiotherapy and radiography.

The partnership will also focus on the development of new medical technologies, including remote care for patients following orthopaedic surgery and with chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes.

UCD’s medical school already partners with the 11 publicly run hospitals in the Dublin East Hospital Group, principally St Vincent’s hospital and the Mater hospital. About 4,000 healthcare undergraduates and postgraduates attend the university, including more than 100 medical students in each year.

Mr O’Brien took over the Beacon last April from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Group. Last year, it treated 95,000 patients, including 10,000 in the emergency department. Accounts for 2011 and 2012 show it lost almost €10 million in each year.

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen

Paul Cullen is Health Editor of The Irish Times