HSE ceases using facilities in some private hospitals under Covid agreement

Access is being maintained to facilities in some centres in Dublin and Limerick

The HSE has stood down a number of private hospitals from an agreement that allows it to access their facilities during spikes in the incidence of Covid-19.

However, it indicated on Friday that it would be maintaining access to private hospital services in Dublin and Limerick.

Under the pandemic deal, known as the safety net II process, the private hospitals agreed to provide up to 30 per cent of their capacity to the HSE.

Access to the private hospitals by the HSE would be triggered under the agreement based on a number of metrics including the number of Covid-19 patients in public facilities, the number in intensive care units, the 14- day incidence rate and the “R” value.

“Cessation metrics have been met at a national level and HSE has issued cessation letters to relevant private providers. However, the HSE is cognisant of regional variation in the disease profile and is maintaining arrangements where required in line with the provisions of the service arrangement, specifically Dublin and Limerick,” the HSE said.

Out-patient care

Taoiseach Micheál Martin told the Dail on Wednesday that the arrangement with all 18 private hospitals would continue and would be used to deal with the backlog of patients requiring treatment as well as for out-patient appointments.

However, it would appear that moves by the HSE to address lengthy public waiting lists by using facilities of private hospitals will form part of a separate €240 million access-to-care initiative rather than the Covid-19 agreement put in place in January.

The HSE said it had received “significant additional funding to support access to care in 2021, in addition to work under the safety net arrangement”.

"This will be targeted at delivering additional public sector activity and purchasing capacity in the private sector under procured arrangements (e.g. access to time dependent surgery). The National Treatment Purchase Fund are also continuing to target funding at purchasing care for patients who are on waiting lists."

The deal with the private hospitals during surges of the Covid-19 virus runs for a 12-month period and can be re-activated by the HSE where necessary when certain metrics are met.