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The Association has set out six steps which it is urging the incoming Minister for Health to take, namely:
• Design a joint public and private sector initiative to tackle waiting lists for both inpatient and outpatient treatments including a focus on diagnostics;
• Move patients more quickly through Emergency Departments by using all available beds in both the public and private sectors;
• Address the gaps delaying patient treatment by launching a coordinated approach to attracting consultants and other health professionals to work in Ireland;
• Introduce a new competitive system for commissioning hospital care by 2018;
• Coordinate planned investment in medical facilities and equipment to avoid duplication, get value and create efficiencies;
• Establish a task force to boost co-operation between public and private healthcare systems.
Mr Simon Nugent, recently appointed as PHA CEO, commented: “We must focus on three things: patients, planning and partnership. If we all plan together, there is great scope for private hospitals to help the Minister for Health and the HSE tackle the challenges they are facing. Our members can help in the treatment of many waiting-list patients but we can only make a significant impact if we work in close partnership with the public hospitals system.”
Taking as a case study the fact of patients facing long delays for diagnostic tests, Mr Nugent said: “No patient should need to wait longer than three months for an MRI or an endoscopy. We have the equipment. We have the skilled staff. We should just make a plan and clear that backlog.”
The PHA has also referred to ICU and urology capacity in the private sector, as examples of provision that could benefit public patients.
According to the PHA, its 19 hospitals make over one million bed nights available annually, treat 400,000 patients, carry out over 250,000 procedures and complete three million diagnostic tests.
PHA members undertake around 50 per cent of all heart surgeries and 65 per cent of all spinal surgeries carried out every year and provide one in ten inpatient psychiatric beds in Ireland, it says.