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Contractual proposals to private consultants would remove care for existing patients – IHCA

Current contractual arrangements proposed by the HSE for private hospital consultants would result in the withdrawal of their ability to provide ongoing care to their existing patients, the IHCA has warned. These would include patients with possible cancer-related symptoms, post-operative wounds or blocked catheter issues.

On 30 March last, the Government announced it had reached agreement with private hospitals across the State to use their facilities for the treatment of both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients.

Approximately, 500 consultants working at these hospitals who currently treat private patients only are to receive temporary HSE locum contracts to cover their work during the crisis period.

According to the IHCA: “Many of these consultants have expressed concern about the terms of such contracts and specifically, their negative impact on the patients they currently treat.

“Under the proposed terms of these contracts, consulting rooms will be forced to shut to outpatients, for both current and future private outpatients.

“Nationally, a large number of outpatient consultations will be impacted as a result. This will have considerable knock-on detrimental impacts on the quality of care received by these patients and by all patients accessing hospital services.

“Examples of treatments currently undertaken at these consulting rooms include patients with possible cancer-related symptoms, post-operative wounds or blocked catheter issues.

“Patients availing of these services are also naturally concerned, with private clinics receiving many queries from patients who have concerns about their ongoing care and treatment.”

According to Dr Oisin O’Connell, Respiratory Consultant, “The current contractual arrangements proposed by the HSE would result in the withdrawal of private hospitals consultants’ ability to provide ongoing care to their existing patients. It would equally prevent private patients presenting with new medical issues from being treated.

“Without access to consulting rooms, private patients with urgent and ongoing medical needs will now present for care to Emergency Departments at acute public hospitals – all of which are already experiencing pressures in managing Covid-19.

“Private only consultants believe the solution to this issue lies in a contractual arrangement which enables these consultants meet their obligations under the proposed HSE temporary locum contracts but also permits them to continue to treat their private patients outside of their HSE contract hours.

“All hospital consultants, whether public or private, are eager and anxious to play their part in the delivery of frontline hospital care during this national emergency. However, all solutions must be well thought out and not add to the existing pressures across our hospitals.

“We are continuing to liaise with the Department of Health and HSE to ensure that all proposed measures protect all patients and their access to quality care,” added Dr O’Connell.

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