Sixteen private hospitals have agreed to provide up to 30 per cent of capacity to the HSE to deal with the current Covid-19 surge under a new agreement, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, has said.
He said the HSE was still in ongoing “constructive” engagement with the one remaining private hospital, and this hospital was already providing service to the public system.
“I am keenly aware of the excellent local relationships that already exist between public and private hospitals and know that a number of the private hospitals have already begun to make arrangements to take on public patients over the coming days,” said Mr Donnelly.
“The additional capacity created by this agreement is critical to enabling the public health system cope with large-scale surges in the incidences of the disease.”
The Bon Secours private hospitals in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Tralee, Co Kerry said on Friday they would allocate capacity to the HSE.
Bill Maher, chief executive of the Bon Secours Health System, said part of its hospitals would "be available to partner with the HSE in this wave of Covid, while also ensuring private healthcare can continue for our patients".
It is understood there were some contacts on Friday between the HSE and the Beacon Hospital, which has not signed up to the new agreement.
On Wednesday, a spokeswoman for Beacon Hospital said it did not expect to take part in the scheme as it already had in place arrangements with individual public hospitals and the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) to treat public patients.
She said about 20 per cent of capacity at the hospital was currently devoted to supporting the public system and about 50 per cent of those in its intensive care facilities were public patients.
However, the following day the head of the HSE, Paul Reid, told a press conference he was confident the Beacon Medical Group, which runs Beacon Hospital, would sign up.
Separately, St Vincent’s Private Hospital is to meet with the HSE next week, saying on Friday that since November 2020 patients from the nearby public St Vincent’s University Hospital were being accommodated in its beds on foot of an agreement to deal with the pressures caused by the pandemic and the winter surge in demand for care.
“Currently 17 per cent (36 beds) of bed capacity (210 beds) in St Vincent’s Private Hospital is being used by patients from St Vincent’s University Hospital.
"We will continue to co-operate fully with St Vincent's University Hospital, Ireland East Hospital Group and the HSE to meet the additional requirements for beds in St Vincent's Private Hospital."
On Thursday, the Blackrock Clinic, the Galway Clinic and the Hermitage Clinic – which are part of the Parma Investments group owned by businessman Larry Goodman – said they would be taking part in the agreement.
Hospitals in the Mater Private network in Dubli,n Cork and Limerick are also to sign up to the new deal.
Under the proposed deal, to run for 12 months, the State would effectively take over 15-30 per cent of capacity in the hospitals, depending on the number of cases and the impact the disease was having on the public health system at a particular time.
However, Labour leader Alan Kelly said: “This is a bad deal that will provide for few general beds, access to fewer ICU beds and a lower number of hospitals than was agreed in the first wave.”