Beacon Hospital signs deal with HSE on access to facilities during pandemic

Private hospital was last to enter agreement to provide additional care to public patients

The private Beacon Hospital in Dublin is to enter into a new agreement with the HSE to provide access to its facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The hospital was the last remaining private hospital to sign up to the accord, known as the ‘safety net agreement’. The hospital said it had done so following a period of renewed discussion and clarification.

The Beacon said the agreement would enable it to continue to provide signifcant levels of complex care of public patients, which it was already carrying out under deals with individual public hospitals. However, it said this work would now be carried out under the terms of the new arrangement with the HSE.

Hospital Report

"Following a period of positive engagement with the HSE we are pleased to confirm that we have agreed to sign a new surge agreement," Beacon Hospital chief executive Michael Cullen said.

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“We are comfortable that the agreement shared with us on Sunday night addresses the concerns that we had raised and are pleased to be in a position where we will work even more closely with the HSE in the days and weeks ahead.”

Mr Cullen said that over the past four months, between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the hospital’s surgical capacity and 55 per cent of its intensive care unit “had been dedicated to meeting the healthcare needs of public patients with complex, time sensitive issues”.

“We look forward to continuing to do this work and to increasing the capacity available - up to 30 per cent - if required by the HSE to help support the public system during this time of immense pressure.”

Vaccination centre

The hospital has also offered the HSE the use of a newly built vaccination centre to support the ongoing Covid-19 programme. The centre has the capacity to do up to 9,000 vaccinations per week and has already been used to vaccinate almost 1,500 HSE frontline workers.

“The HSE has indicated that it will accept this offer and will use the facility over the coming months,” the Beacon said.

The overall agreement between the private hospitals and the HSE is expected to cost the State about €37.5 million per month. The deal allows the HSE to access up to 30 per cent of facilites in private hospitals depending on the incidence of Covid-19 and its impact on the wider health service. The deal will run for up to 12 months.

The HSE welcomed the decision which it said would provide support for patients at a time when “the public hospital system is under great pressure”.

“We are very pleased that the 18 private hospitals have now joined this arrangement, and look forward to working with them during this exceptionally challenging time for healthcare in Ireland,” HSE chief executive Paul Reid said.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent