State use of private hospitals during pandemic will 'negatively impact' private patients, say consultants

State use of private hospitals during pandemic will 'negatively impact' private patients, say consultants

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association says that the agreement between the government and private hospitals will have a negative impact on private patients.

Last week it was announced private hospitals would be used by the state to treat both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients.

However around 500 consultants at private hospitals say a large number of outpatient consultations will be impacted as a result and will have a detrimental impact on the quality of care received by these patients.

They say that consultants who currently treat private patients only are to receive temporary HSE locum contracts to cover their work during the Covid-19 crisis.

Many have expressed concern about the terms of such contracts and specifically expressed concern about the negative impact it could have on the patients they currently treat.

Under the proposed terms of the contracts, consulting rooms would be forced to shut to outpatients for both current and future private outpatients.

Examples of treatments currently undertaken at these consulting rooms include patients with possible cancer-related symptoms, post-operative wounds or blocked catheter issues.

"Without access to consulting rooms, private patients with urgent and ongoing medical needs will now present for care to Emergency Departments at acute public hospitals - all of which are already experiencing pressures in managing COVID-19," said Dr Oisin O'Connell, Respiratory Consultant.

"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.

"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."

Dr O'Connell said the group is liaising with the Department of Health and the HSE to ensure all proposed measures protect all patients and their access to quality care.

    Useful information
  • The HSE have developed an information pack on how to protect yourself and others from coronavirus. Read it here
  • Anyone with symptoms of coronavirus who has been in close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days should isolate themselves from other people - this means going into a different, well-ventilated room alone, with a phone; phone their GP, or emergency department;
  • GPs Out of Hours services are not in a position to order testing for patients with normal cold and flu-like symptoms. HSELive is an information line and similarly not in a position to order testing for members of the public. The public is asked to reserve 112/999 for medical emergencies at all times.
  • ALONE has launched a national support line and additional supports for older people who have concerns or are facing difficulties relating to the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in Ireland. The support line will be open seven days a week, 8am-8pm, by calling 0818 222 024

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