The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) has raised the need for “value for money” and “clarity” regarding the safety net agreements with private hospitals, the Medical Independent (MI) can report.
Since 2020, a series of agreements have been established between the HSE, the Government, and the private hospital sector, to provide additional capacity to the HSE to deal with any possible surge in Covid-19 cases and hospitalisations.
The current arrangement is due to end on 30 June.
Asked if there were plans for another safety net agreement, a HSE spokesperson told MI that discussions with stakeholders were ongoing “with no decision made as of yet”.
At the health budget oversight group meeting in January, DPER “requested clarity around the continued use of safety net agreements, the status of relevant sanction, and the potential for further private hospital use in 2022”.
According to minutes of the meeting, DPER “reminded the group of a previous request for any analysis of the safety net agreements” in terms of value for money and cost-effectiveness.
“DPER emphasised that such analysis is crucial to inform decision-making about the optimal use of private capacity. It was noted that prior Government consideration was required.”
In January, Minister for Heath Stephen Donnelly told the Dáil that “actual payments made to the private hospitals under the safety net arrangements amounted to €288.2 million in 2020 and €119.8 million in 2021”.