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The comments were made by Minister Leo Varadkar at a speech to the Institute of Chartered Accountants and are reported in the media today.
Minister Varadkar had said that, where hospitals consistently underperform in terms of clinical outcomes, patient experience and financial management, it “should be open to the provider to transfer management of the hospital for a period of time to a private provider by means of a concession or management contract”.
Speaking in response, IMO President Dr Ray Walley said the suggestion was an attempt by the Minister and the Government to avoid responsibility for the consequences of years of austerity in the health services.
“In the week that’s in it, for the Minister to be discussing profit-focussed businesses to run our hospitals is grossly insensitive and ill-conceived. This policy will downgrade public service and pave the way for privatisation of our essential health services.”
He continued: “Such policy has been a disaster in other countries and we only have to look across the water at the UK to see the consequences of this kind of initiative. In the US corporate medicine has led to more expensive care that is less efficient with poorer overall outcomes.”
Dr Walley said cuts imposed by Government had forced hospitals to operate “with both hands tied behind their backs and now the Minister is saying their performance isn’t good enough”.
He warned that growing “corporatisation” of health services in Ireland was a huge threat which would fundamentally alter the way healthcare was managed across the country.