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New private deal should not ‘fracture’ consultant-patient relationship – IHCA

Local involvement and maintaining the “consultant and patient” relationship are two of the most important elements in any new deal between the HSE and private hospitals for Covid-19 capacity, the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) President has told this newspaper.

The HSE confirmed to the Medical Independent (MI) that talks between the Executive and the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) are at an “advanced stage” for a new “surge agreement” with an announcement on details expected in October.

“We agreed with [HSE CEO] Paul Reid on the deal of April, May , June that he doesn’t want to repeat that for very obvious reasons, and we agree with him,”, Professor Alan Irvine told the Medical Independent (MI).

“Whatever deal is done we think the two things that should be done are we think, one it should be worked out with a lot of local involvement…to best and most sufficiently match the need, to get the maximum capacity out of it.

“And the second priority is that consultants and their patients’ relationship does not get fractured as it did in April, May and June. We want to learn from April, May and June with whatever new deal is put on the table.”

Also speaking to MI, IHCA Secretary General Mr Martin Varley said that “of course the private hospitals will do what they can” in terms of the provision of capacity in the event of any future Covid-19 surge,

“But they are under significant demand from their own patients…it [private hospitals]  won’t be the full solution. It could never be the full solution even in an ordinary year, particularly in a year like this where it is hugely important that the public health service increases its own capacity as quickly as possible.”

On progress in the talks on a “further surge agreement” an Executive spokesperson told MI that “the HSE had engaged with the  Private Hospitals Association (PHA)and by agreement we entered into bi-lateral discussions with individual providers.”

“There has been very constructive engagement with individual private providers and we are at an advanced stage of discussion and hope to bring this process to a conclusion shortly. The procurement process closed to applications on the 31 August and evaluation of applications has now been completed.

“The HSE is in the process of communicating with applicants in relation to the outcome of the evaluation process. It is hoped to progress to mini competition stage in October.”

Asked what role the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) has played in the current talks, the spokesperson said “in relation to scheduled care the NTPF has resumed its operations with a view to obtaining increased capacity to deal with waiting list activity”.

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