Consultants urged to see more private patients for hospital income

IMO says elimination of private practice would cost public hospitals €649m per year

The IMO says 56 per cent of its consultant members indicated in a survey their willingness to leave public health in the event of a ban. Photograph: Thinkstock

The IMO says 56 per cent of its consultant members indicated in a survey their willingness to leave public health in the event of a ban. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

Most consultants would consider leaving the public health system if a ban on treating fee-paying patients is put in place, according to the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).

The IMO says 56 per cent of its consultant members indicated in a survey their willingness to leave public health in the event of a ban. More than one-third of consultants with private practice rights in public hospitals say management have encouraged doctors to treat more fee-paying patients to generate increased income for their institutions.

The claims are set out in a submission made by the IMO to the Government-appointed committee which is examining the impact of proposals under the Sláintecare reforms to separate public and private care in public hospitals.

The IMO claims the recommendation to remove private care from public hospitals contained in the Sláintecare report are based on “flawed assumptions”.

The elimination of private practice in public hospitals is unlikely to generate meaningful additional public healthcare capacity, it says.

“Additionally, it is a proposal that carries numerous risks including the potential to deprive the public system of a much needed source of revenue, running into billions of euro, as well as creating a further barrier to consultant recruitment and retention in Ireland. ”

It says the withdrawal of private care from public hospitals would create an annual funding shortfall for public hospitals of €649 million.

Given the reluctance of successive governments to invest in public health service capacity, to choke off this vital funding stream simply makes no practical sense, the IMO says.

The IMO also says insufficient consideration has been given to new contracts or working arrangements that may be required to operate a system in which private practice is separated from public hospitals.