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A spokesperson for Beaumont Hospital told MI the agreement provides for the “potential transfer” of a patient to Beaumont who requires an ICU bed urgently.
Bon Secours in Glasnevin has a high-dependency unit (HDU) but does not have an ICU.
While “every effort” will be made to ensure that a critical care bed is available in a timely fashion, “it is understood that on some occasions, this may not be immediately possible”, stated Beaumont’s spokesperson.
Asked about the financial element of the arrangement, Beaumont’s spokesperson said it “receives standard reimbursement, as with all private patients”.
The hospital does not currently have statistics on how many patients this arrangement would involve, although MI understands numbers would be small. Many surgical and medical consultants work from both hospitals, which are located about 5km apart by road. There was no comment from the Bon Secours by press time.
Insufficient critical care capacity in the public system has come under the spotlight over recent months, with IHCA President Dr Tom Ryan expressing concern that the lack of ICU beds nationally is putting lives at risk.
The October 2016 Risk Register for the RCSI Hospitals Group, which includes Beaumont, describes as a ‘high risk’ the “insufficient capacity and capability to treat patients requiring critical care, with the potential for adverse patient outcomes”.
This risk is described as patients being unable to access Level 2 and Level 3 critical care beds; inadequate isolation facilities in critical care; insufficient space between critical care beds, increasing the potential for healthcare-associated infections; infrastructural deficits; lack of air-filtering units; and difficulty recruiting and retaining healthcare professionals competent in critical care.
The HSE critical care capacity census for 2015 noted that nationally, there were 25 critical care beds fully funded but not operational due to recruitment problems. Critical care bed capacity in 2015 was 237, down from 259 in 2008.
“A submission was made for additional critical care capacity to the Department as part of the 2017 estimates process and the HSE is awaiting a decision as part of the service planning process,” said the HSE.