The Executive Director of the Sláintecare Programme Office requested the Department of Health to provide an outline of how many public hospital beds would be released if the recommendations of the de Buitléir report were implemented, the Medical Independent can reveal.
The report of the independent review group, which was chaired by Dr Donal de Buitléir, made a number of recommendations concerning the removal of private activity from public hospitals.
In June, before the publication of the final report in August, Ms Laura Magahy asked Mr Colm Ó Conaill, Private Health Insurance Unit at the Department, for a table “showing the impact of how many public hospital beds would be released over time if/when de Buitléir is implemented”.
In response, Mr Ó Conaill forwarded a statement from Mr Ronan Toomey, Secretary to the independent review group.
Mr Toomey stated that the de Buitléir report concluded a significant number of what would be private patients under the current system would simply become public patients under a system where private activity was no longer permitted.
The reasons for this included admission through emergency departments and no equivalent services in private hospitals.
“In effect, what the group felt was that if private activity is no longer permitted, the public system would be required to treat an equivalent number of public patients, as these patients have nowhere else to go,” stated Mr Toomey.
“On that basis, they concluded that the removal of private activity is unlikely to free-up significant capacity and therefore does not free-up any beds.”
However, it was likely some patients would seek a private service in a private hospital, he added.