Consultants say state use of private hospitals will have "negative impact" on private patients
"All hospital consultants, whether public or private, are eager and anxious to play their part in the delivery of frontline hospital care during this national emergency."
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has expressed concern that the agreement between the government and private hospitals will have a "negative impact" on current patients.
On 30 March, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar announced a deal had been struck with private hospitals across Ireland to use their facilities for the treatment of both Covid-19 and non Covid-19 patients.
Around 500 consultants in these hospitals who treat private-only patients are to receive temporary locum contracts from the HSE during the Covid-19 crisis period.
The consultants said they are eager to play their part in the delivery of frontline staff during the current crisis, but expressed concerns that their ability to provide care for their current patients could be negatively impacted by the contracts.
The IHCA said that, under the agreement, consulting rooms would be closed for both current and future private outpatients. It said private patients with ongoing medical needs would be forced to present to Emergency Departments at acute public hospitals which are already under pressure with the Covid-19 outbreak.
"Private-only consultants believe the solution to this issue lies in a contractual arrangement which enables these consultants meet their obligations under the proposed HSE temporary locum contracts but also permits them to continue to treat their private patients outside of their HSE contract hours," said Dr Oisin O’Connell, Respiratory Consultant.
"All hospital consultants, whether public or private, are eager and anxious to play their part in the delivery of frontline hospital care during this national emergency. However, all solutions must be well thought out and not add to the existing pressures across our hospitals.
"We are continuing to liaise with the Department of Health and HSE to ensure that all proposed measures protect all patients and their access to quality care," he added.