Private and public healthcare

Sir, – Asam Ishtiaq (Letters, May 8th) declares the pandemic crisis to be "under control" and proposes releasing 50 per cent of private hospital capacity back to independent care providers. Readers should be reminded that in the last seven days alone 154 people have died of Covid-19 in Ireland. By way of context, in the entire flu season of 2019, a year that saw 118,000 people spend a night on a trolley in our public hospitals, 65 people died.

Ireland entered this pandemic with the lowest number of hospital specialist doctors and the fourth-lowest number of hospital beds in the OECD. That our public hospitals have avoided annihilation this year speaks volumes to the measures enacted to maximise capacity and the dedication and trojan efforts of all public healthcare staff, including the part played doctors of both consultant and non-consultant grades to whom Mr Ishtiaq refers in a tone that is less than complimentary.

When I drive to work every morning seven days a week I pass signs on the motorway that remind me that “we are all in this together”.

In that spirit, while acknowledging the urgent need to resume the vital scheduled and unscheduled work undertaken in the private hospital sector, this should only take place when the pandemic is under sufficient control to allow similar work to take place for public patients in public hospitals too. To relinquish the private hospital capacity commandeered by the State before then would be premature.


To paraphrase Irish Rail, we’re not there yet but we’re getting there. – Is mise,





Tallaght University


Dublin 24.

Sir, – Given the risk of inadequate capacity in public hospitals, the Government, the Department of Health and the HSE acted promptly and secured the capacity of the private hospitals.

That was sensible contingency planning. Thankfully the public hospital system has not been overwhelmed.

The private hospitals are meanwhile operating at a fraction of their capacity. Many patients have had operations and treatments postponed indefinitely.

The Government must urgently release this unused private hospital capacity.

Paying €115 million a month for facilities operating at 10 per cent to 20 per cent of capacity is indefensible. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 15.