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Private hospitals must be ‘integrated part’ of healthcare system – Reid

Private hospitals must become “an integrated part” of the whole healthcare system, the HSE CEO Mr Paul Reid recently told a webinar hosted by RCSI’s Institute of Leadership.

Mr Reid said this did not mean the private system had to be made public.

“It means it has to be an integrated part of the whole healthcare system, and we have to have an agile environment for the future that will involve calling on the private healthcare system, as required …for whatever needs we may have in the future.

“That is my view as CEO, that is what I will be projecting forward – an integrated system,” Mr Reid told the webinar on 21 May, which discussed the topic of leadership in healthcare during the Covid-19 crisis and beyond.

“I always believed there will continue to be private and public, people will make their minds up on that because 50 per cent of people subscribe to private care. But we should value both and look at how we can integrate both in a very different way for the future.”

HSE National Communications Director Mr Paul Connors, who was relying questions to Mr Reid during the Q&A, indicated this could place Sláintecare under the microscope.

Mr Reid said the crisis had meant some of the commitments in Sláintecare had been put into practice and “everybody will want to sustain and retain some of that”.

Going forward, “we should look through a new lens and see what was mapped out, what have we proved and what should we test again – now, they are big decisions for policymakers and ultimately won’t be my decision.”

Earlier in the webinar, Mr Reid said it will not be possible to have public hospitals operating at 100 per cent capacity but rather a maximum of 80 per cent. Asked by Mr Connors if this required holding on to private hospitals, Mr Reid said this would be a big decision for the HSE board and Government.

He said the public would expect to be able to return to services without being impacted by a Covid-19 outbreak.

The State’s takeover of the private hospital system, due to the Covid-19 crisis, will not be extended at the end of this month, when the current deal expires. It will cost around €300 million for three months.

Continued access to private hospitals will be sought under a new arrangement.

In comments at a HSE press conference this morning (5 June), Mr Reid said the HSE noted and respected the decision of Government to terminate the current agreement with private hospitals.

However, he underlined that the HSE would continue to need more capacity, especially in the winter period.

Mr Reid welcomed the opportunity to enter into discussions with private hospitals, with other key departments, to ensure flexibility and increased capacity.

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