Developers allay fears for €100m hospital plan

DOUBTS about the future of the proposed €100 million private clinic at Adare Manor have been dispelled following a meeting of its management committee.

Tom Kane, owner of Adare Manor, warned last week that the decision of BUPA to pull out of the Irish market had caused a major rethink.

But, following a meeting of the project committee yesterday, it was decided to proceed with the project.

Full planning permission has been received on a 23-acre site within the manor’s grounds.

Dr Ed Walsh, chairman of the clinic committee, said the uncompetitive nature of private health insurance in this country made it inevitable EU intervention would help change the situation in the near future.

The hospital will provide 100 beds and will include six operating theatres, 30 consultant suites, two intervention radiology suites, 30 consultant suites along with state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment facilities.

To avoid cross-infection, patients will have air-conditioned private rooms with toilet and shower.

The facility will provide for a day surgery centre and an urgent care centre together with a cardiac suite, a radiology suite, MRI and CAT scanning.

Dr Walsh said: “We are committed to providing the people of Limerick and its region with a world-class hospital while reducing pressure on the public sector.

“In addition to the hospital and clinic, the Adare Medical Foundation is being established as a non-profit organisation to benefit individuals and groups who did not have the means to access specialised treatment, and to drive advances in the field of medical research.

“It is intended that research activity will commence at the outset.”

The clinic steering committee, which provides executive advice, also includes Prof Eric Masterson, orthopaedic consultant at Croom Hospital; Dr John A Libertino, chairman of Lahey Clinic Medical Centre and J Merritt Brown, developer of Boston’s renowned Lahey Clinic.

Dr Walsh said private hospitals can radically improve healthcare in this country in an environment of fair competition.

He said: “Ireland is ranked 25th in the Euro Health Index, at the very bottom of the list, behind such states as Latvia, Slovakia and Poland. Only when conditions are sufficiently changed across the whole health system, to ensure fair competition between the public and the private, will the situation improve.”

He said they were concerned with the difficulties experienced by Ireland’s private hospitals in dealing with the state-controlled VHI.

The difficulties, he said, would be further aggravated by the withdrawal of BUPA.

Dr Walsh added: “But we feel the current insurance situation in Ireland is so perverse, anti-competitive and incompatible with EU fair competition policies, that it cannot prevail much longer. Against this backdrop, the steering committee is determined to forge ahead with the Adare clinic on the assumption that Brussels and Dublin will take initiatives to remove abuse of dominant positions in the public health sector and create conditions for fair competition.”

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