At least nine consultants at a private hospital in Co Kerry have tendered resignation letters from the HSE’s short-term Covid-19 contract over their disquiet at how the State’s takeover of such hospitals has panned out.
It is thought that many private consultants across the country are unhappy with the situation due to low hospital occupancy and problems with continuity of care for private patients, and are now moving to express their dissatisfaction in more concrete terms.
The Co Kerry consultants, based at the Bon Secours hospital in Tralee, tendered their resignations en masse on Wednesday, it has emerged.
Both the Bon Secours and the Private Hospitals Association declined to comment on the situation.
One consultant at the hospital acknowledged that the move is “symbolic”, given that notice to quit the contract cannot be given before the end of June.
“It sends a message to the Department of Health that if they were thinking of extending this thing until Christmas, then none of these consultants would be involved,” the doctor said.
Health Minister Simon Harris and HSE chief executive Paul Reid have both said consistently that private hospitals are needed to mitigate any prospective second surge of the coronavirus.
The “Type A” contracts, which the HSE had mandated that private consultants must sign, prohibit those physicians from conducting any private work with their regular patients for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis.
Less than 50% of the 600 private consultants working in Ireland have signed that contract thus far. Roughly 30 of the 35 full-time private consultants at the Bon Secours had done so.