Harris says removing private practice from public hospitals is 'right thing to do'

Harris says removing private practice from public hospitals is 'right thing to do'

The Health Minister says removing private practice from public hospitals is the right thing to do.

However, Simon Harris says the independent review group's proposal will be difficult to implement and more detail is needed before a decision is made.

The report says ending the practice will cost the state €6.5 billion and take 10 years to put in place.

The Health Minister says it is something that needs to be considered carefully.

"What the de Buitléir report effectively says is that yes it is possible to remove private practice from public hospitals but that it is complex, it is costly and it would take a number of years," said Mr Harris.

"Instinctively, I feel that it is the right thing to do but I'm not in any way unaware of the significant challenges that it may pose.

"So it is my intention now to engage with stakeholders and government collegues and return to government in the next few months with proposals in relation to how to respond to the de Buitléir report."

The report, delivered yesterday by Dr Donal de Buitléir, suggested that a 10-year timeframe is the most likely and “realistic” to bring about the needed change in the health system, which Dr de Buitléir labelled as being “unfair, and needs to change”.

That 10 year horizon is twice what had been initially proposed by Sláintecare, with the full cost of implementing the change tagged at €659 million per year, €6.6 billion overall.

Responding to the report, the Irish Medical Organisation says there is no evidence that capacity or waiting lists will improve by banning private patients from public hospitals.

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