The <em>Sláintecare Report</em> also called for the removal of private practice from public hospitals, which the Minister said would occur on a phased basis.
“What we need to do first is have our ducks lined-up in terms of the Sláintecare implementation plan and where we want to go in public/private [matters], but I am absolutely clear that we won’t be able to deliver Sláintecare without a new consultant contract,” Minister Harris told <strong><em>MI</em></strong>.
Asked if he would favour a contract allowing unlimited off-site private practice once the public commitment was met, as suggested by former Minister for Health and now Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, he said: “I would tend to agree with the Taoiseach in relation to that. My responsibility as Minster for Health, the Government’s responsibility, is to make sure that public health facilities are treating public patients and that those people being paid by the public health service are delivering those services.”
According to Minister Harris, “most consultants in the health service go way above and beyond” fulfilling their public commitment. He said he would be “more concerned as their Minister about them overworking rather than underworking, and that includes in the public service”.
Minister Harris has appointed a review group to consider approaches to removing private practice from public hospitals, with this review due to be finalised by the end of 2018. The Sláintecare implementation plan is due to be brought to Government before Easter and the lead for the implementation office is expected to be in place by April, the Minister confirmed.
<strong><em>See full interview, pages 4-6</em></strong>