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Covid-19 surge plan does not address private consultants’ concerns – PHA

The Private Hospitals Association (PHA) has told the HSE that the proposed agreement seeking access to private hospital capacity in the event of a surge of Covid-19 does not address the serious concerns of private consultants.

In a letter to Mr Liam Woods, HSE National Director Acute Operation, on August 21, the PHA referred to the hostility that arose from the previous agreement.

“As you are aware the initial agreement caused considerable rancour with our patients, the private health insurance industry and our consultants. The arrangement as proposed does not address the legitimate concerns of these significant stakeholders,” said the letter, an excerpt of which has been seen by the Medical Independent (MI).

“The commercial nature of our businesses would be greatly hampered in a situation where some entities continue to provide service to our customers whilst others provide a proportion or entire public service. Such scenarios are not accounted for within the proposal.”

The letter states the view that the HSE and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) have demonstrated “admirable leadership throughout this pandemic and we postulate the likelihood of a surge beyond what has previously been experienced of low probability”.

“The proposed new framework however, endeavours to encompass scheduled care and non-urgent care, which whilst may pose an immediate challenge are not specific to the pandemic situation and we recommend the NTPF [National Treatment Purchase Fund] is the best basis under which we can respond to these demands.

“Whilst we recognise the potential need for the HSE to gain access to additional capacity and we are very willing enter into further agreement this will be on the basis of the hospital offering capacity that is available due to an inability to provide care to our existing patients resultant from changes to best international practice recommendations.

“We recognised that during the Heads of Terms the most fluid care pathways occurred through local arrangement with hospital clinical leaders and management. We would suggest that any future arrangement should also operate on this basis.”

Meanwhile, the deadline for submissions for a HSE tender seeking access to private healthcare services to make up for a lack of capacity in the public system due to Covid-19 closes on 31 August.

“The purpose of the process is to access private healthcare services to address the HSE priority needs in providing ongoing care arising from the enduring impact of Covid-19 on the overall public system capacity due to the need to reduce occupancy rates, ensure safe distancing etc.

Organisations have been invited to join a panel agreement to provide additional healthcare capacity.

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