HSE pays €90.2m advance to private hospitals for leasing facilities in April

Taoiseach says €115 million an ‘accurate estimate’ of monthly cost to State

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said €115 million a month is an "accurate estimate" of the cost to the State of the Government's deal to lease private hospital facilities.

He told Rise TD Paul Murphy that it was however "not necessarily what the actual cost will be because we will not know that until the end, when the costs are calculated".

During Dáil questions on the Covid-19 crisis, Mr Varadkar said the agreement made between the HSE and the Private Hospitals Association was “that this would be done on a not-for-profit basis. The agreement is for the covering of the costs of the private hospitals.”

Later Minister for Health Simon Harris told Sinn Féin health spokeswoman Louise O'Reilly that the HSE had made advance payments for April of €90.2 million.

Mr Harris said the under the agreement the private hospitals’ recent management accounts would be examined by a firm of accountants acting on behalf of the HSE.

“Payments will be determined on actual costs incurred and will be subject to verification and, as part of an agreement, a process is being put in place to resolve any disputes.

“Under the arrangement, a participating private hospital is due 80 per cent of its estimated monthly costs in advance from the HSE.”

He said the costs would have to be verified and “any difference is subject to a claw-back in the subsequent month”.

The Minister said the €90.2 million advance was based on estimated provided by participating hospitals “ and importantly - I want to say this before people say that is the final figure - will be adjusted based on verified actual costs.”

He said he had sent the details of the deal to the Oireachtas to be laid before both Houses.

Mr Murphy asked if the figure agreed had a profit margin built into it but the Taoiseach insisted it was on a not for profit basis.

Minimum figure

Ms O’Reilly asked if a minimum figure had been set for the cost and if it had to be paid regardless of whether the facilities were being used.

The Minister for Health said that under the terms of the agreement, the HSE will secure 100 per cent of the capacity of the private hospitals.

“The heads of terms have been signed by the 19 acute private hospitals and it is expected that final contracts with individual private hospitals or groups of private hospitals will be agreed shortly.”

The arrangement is for three months with an option to extend it for a further month “and by mutual agreement thereafter”.