The Health Service Executive announced earlier this month that four consortiums have been given the go-ahead to build six co-located private hospitals, creating more than 900 additional beds.
The new hospitals are expected to come on-stream within two to three years, but almost two-thirds of those who took part in the latest irishhealth.com viewers’ poll gave co-location the thumbs-down.
Asked if co-located hospitals would improve healthcare in Ireland, 63% said no, 25% said yes and 12% said it would make no difference.
Some of those who voted no in the online poll warned that Ireland was heading for a two-tiered health system, while those who voted yes said anything that freed up public hospital beds was a good idea.
But a spokesperson for the Health Service Executive (HSE) dismissed the finding, pointing out that online polls were unreliable.
Publisher of irishhealth.com John Gibbons said the poll was based on the views of about 500 of its 11,604 viewers.
Mr Gibbons said he found it surprising there was very little public debate on an issue that would have a huge impact on the health service.
“We want to encourage public debate about the hospital system. It is far too important just to be left to the Government and property developers.”
The land on which the co-located hospitals are to be built will be leased by developers from the State.
The HSE has refused to say how much it will receive from leasing the lands, but has stressed that the public hospitals will receive a percentage of any profits from the co-located private facility and from other non-core activities like car parking.
Assistant national director of the HSE’s National Hospitals Office Tom Finn rejected claims by opponents of the co-location plan that it would further compound the divide between private and public patients. He said co-location would allow public and private hospitals to work in harmony.