HARNEY AND CO-LOCATED HOSPITALS

 

Madam, - I wish to object to Fintan O'Toole's article (July 22nd) on hospital co-location.

This was Fintan at his worst. Intelligence put to the service of bias, a disregard for facts and a moral superiority masking muddled thinking.

At the heart of his article is a call for the co-location policy to be dropped - "a morally obnoxious policy", he says, "which will enshrine our two-tier system".

The Government, he insists, is "Americanising" our health system.

But get this. His initial main attack on co-located hospitals is that they will increase the cost of private insurance.

I know Mary Harney well. I know why she decided on co-location.

She did so because it will have the effect of cutting down significantly on the level of private work currently done in public hospitals and it will free up 1,000 beds in public hospitals for public patients.

It has always been her view that it was unconscionable that so much private work was being done at subsidised rates in public hospitals. Not only does the Government want to move much of that work out into the co-located hospitals, the Government also wants private patients to pay the true cost for facilities in public hospitals.

So far from trying to Americanise Irish healthcare, Mary Harney is trying to make sure public health facilities are available to public patients.

But perhaps the most insidious of Fintan's claims concerns the banks that will finance co-location. He suggests that in the event of the collapse of a co-located hospital, ordinary taxpayers might be forced to pick up the pieces to protect the banks.

It's not true and he must surely know this, if only based on the report by the Irish Times Finance Correspondent on July 1st, which made clear the Government will not be forced to buy the co-location hospitals.

The Irish Times knows that Mary Harney will not countenance such an eventuality, but Fintan puts it in anyway. - Yours, etc,

Senator CIARÁN CANNON, Leinster House, Dublin 2.