IHCA raps ‘real failure’ to hold tripartite talks on private hospitals agreement

‘Real failure’ not to have held tripartite talks for discussions on private hospitals agreement

There was not enough flexibility or agility in how the private hospitals agreement worked in practice, Irish Hospital Consultants Association Council (IHCA) Secretary General, Martin Varley told the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response this morning.

The IHCA suggested there were ways of introducing the agreement that would have optimised the use of private hospitals capacity. Varley said the agreement was necessary but hasty “we could have done better by putting more practical arrangements in place”.

He maintained bed utilisation had been running at about 30 to 40 per cent when the health service could have used private hospitals to the extent of 60 to 80 per cent.

There was now an urgent and essential need to utilise these capacities to their optimum and prevent a surge of non-Covid-19 emergency cases in the coming months which hospitals would not be in a position to cater for in such volumes due to the delays in care.

The real failure had been the inability to have three groups, health service management, the private hospitals and private practice and other hospital consultants’ representatives in one room, IHCA Council member and Consultant Orthopaedic Surgeon, Mr Maurice Neligan, told Committee members.

Varley also referred to inflexibility in the contracts for private consultants who either signed a contract or could not maintain private practice as “Hobson’s choice”.

He raised the need to put intensive care unit (ICU) beds on a sustainable capacity, consultants had always known it was a problem to deliver scheduled and unscheduled care.

valerie.ryan@imt.ie

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