Sir, – Breda O’Brien wonders if the Sisters of Charity share the view of some senior prelates that there is no future in this country for Catholic healthcare (Opinion & Analysis, May 21st).
They should not be so gloomy, as the sector appears to be flourishing.
The seven Catholic voluntary acute hospitals in the State received over ¤1 billion in HSE revenue grants in 2020, according to the HSE annual report.
One of the key players in the private Catholic healthcare sector, the Irish Bon Secours group, merged in 2019 with the American Bon Secours Mercy Health group (BSMH). As group CEO John Starcher noted in 2020, the then $8 billion-plus BSMH is now “tracking over $10 billion in net revenue because we picked up the largest private system in Ireland as well as a handful of hospitals here in the United States”.
BSMH was attracted to Bon Secours Ireland by both their shared Catholic mission and the high level of private health insurance in Ireland, at currently just over 47 per cent of the population. Despite the disruption caused by Covid-19, Mr Starcher reported in June 2020 that as a result of providing hospital capacity for the public system, “Bon Secours Mercy Health was able to break even because we were compensated by Ireland’s public government agency, the Health Service Executive.” Bon Secours aims to grow Irish turnover to ¤450 million by 2025. A big part of the new Bons Secours strategy, according to Irish CEO Bill Maher, is identifying where Bon Secours “can partner with the HSE and the Department of Health, as we did so successfully in meeting the needs of the coronavirus pandemic”.
Ireland’s newest private healthcare group, Blackrock Health, brings together the Blackrock, Galway, Hermitage and Limerick clinics, all established with avowedly Catholic ethos.
The Mater Private retains the Catholic ethos of the Sisters of Mercy, despite its onward sale to US and French financial companies since 2000.
Finally, St Vincent’s Healthcare Group directors are bound by its new constitution to the “continuance of the fulfilment” of the mission of Mary Aikenhead, the founder of the Sisters of Charity. In 2015, Aikenhead was one of seven people declared venerable by Pope Francis, the second in the four-step process to sainthood in the Catholic Church.
Breda O’Brien should be reassured that Catholic healthcare has a flourishing present and future in Ireland. – Yours, etc,