VHI decision on Mater Cork due

The VHI is expected to decide this week if it will cover Mater Private, Cork for the use of the €90m privately-developed hospital in Mahon for its members.

To date, the VHI has turned down all proposals for the new hospital, but a revised and updated application from Mater Private, Cork to use the facility is to be adjudicated on by the VHI this week.

It is understood the new prospectus envisages savings of up to 10% for the VHI on hospital charges.

The Mater Private, Cork is endeavouring to use the former Cork Medical Centre in Mahon — developed at a cost of €90m — to provide a 102-bed hospital with six ultra modern operating theatres, as its bridgehead into the very lucrative Munster private health care market.

Profits at the country’s largest private healthcare company, Bon Secours Health System Ltd, rose by 80% to €9.7m in 2010, accounts filed by the organisation show.

The Bon Secours Hospital Cork is its flagship hospital. It is proceeding with plans for an €80m extension to its campus on College Road, despite a decision from the VHI not to provide insurance cover for any extra beds in Cork.

And in a separate development, the VHI is facing a multi-million euro claim for damages from the liquidator of the original operators of the Cork Medical Centre, which failed in September of 2011 with the loss of 75 jobs.

In an unusual move, liquidator Kieran Wallace of accountants KPMG has initiated High Court proceedings against the VHI on anti-competition grounds on behalf of the creditors of CMC.

State-owned VHI is being accused of abusing its dominant market position when it decided not to approve the hospital for its members.

The case has been listed for an initial hearing on Mar 6, and liquidator Kieran Wallace’s legal team will argue the VHI’s dominant 57% share of the private medical insurance market, and its refusal to deal with CMC, sealed its faith and forced its closure.

Close to 100 CMC creditors are owed as much as €5m following the closure of the hospital last year.

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