Proposal to exclude half population from public hospitals fails to understand all patients rely on public hospitals
- Excluding half the population from public hospital care is unrealistic, unworkable and would increase concerns about patient care and safety;
- There is no evidence to justify the removal of patients with health insurance from public hospitals or that it would free up over 2,000 beds;
- The proposal is vague, with no clarity on where patients excluded would then be treated for serious illnesses;
- Government has failed to deliver urgently needed additional public hospital beds to treat the unacceptable number of patients on trolleys and over a million on waiting lists. These must be the immediate priority.
IHCA President, Dr Donal O’Hanlon:
“The suggestion that removing patients with health insurance from public hospitals will free up 2,100 extra beds is flawed and misleading. There is no evidence to support such action, which would be undesirable and damaging to patient care and their health outcomes.
“The proposal to exclude half the population and patients (those with health insurance) from public hospitals is contrary to the concept of a public health service.
“The Minister for Health and the Government must desist from attempting to privatise acute hospital care by stealth. Instead patients need real plans put in place to open the 2,600 public hospital beds which are urgently needed and provided for in the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027.”
The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has today, (Tuesday, 12 November), strongly rejected media reports which suggest that the Department of Health believes that removing patients with health insurance from public hospitals will free up 2,100 beds.
The IHCA has said that these numbers simply do not add up and the number of hospital beds freed up, by Department of Health proposals to remove existing patients’ rights to public hospital care, if any, would be miniscule because patients need to attend public hospitals to obtain appropriate care.
The claim that the removal of patients’ rights would free up over 2,000 beds is unsubstantiated. In addition, the proposal provides absolutely no clarity, at all, on where and at what increased cost patients excluded from public hospitals would be treated for serious illnesses thereafter.
More significantly, the IHCA has also warned that the Department’s proposal would remove the existing right of all the population and patients to access care in public hospitals. It ignores the fact that all patients in public hospitals are by choice patients of public hospitals, which they choose to attend as is their right.
In addition, excluding almost half the population or one in every two patients with health insurance, from public hospitals denies these patients access to specialist care and treatment which is not available anywhere else in our health system.
These include the need for patients to attend Designated Cancer Care Centres, Neurosurgery Centres and a long list of public hospital facilities to obtain specialised care including paediatrics, obstetrics, brain injury, trauma and a range of other services.
The Department of Health’s proposals would effectively leave these patients with no public hospital care or the follow-on care required in the months and years after initial treatment.
Excluding patients with health insurance from care in our public hospitals, according to the IHCA, is not the solution as it disregards the best interests and healthcare needs of patients.
Equally, the Government and Department of Health continue to ignore the key investments required to improve public hospital services. These include addressing the chronic underinvestment in our acute hospitals, which is 20% below the EU15 average and almost 30% less that of Scotland with a comparable population.
The Government agreed two years ago that our public hospitals need at least 2,600 additional beds, but these have yet to be even advanced to design or planning in most cases. The fact that one in five of all permanent consultant posts are now unfilled is also adding to the wait times and trolley crisis patients are encountering.
IHCA President, Dr. Donal O’Hanlon commented:
“The suggestion that removing insured patients from public hospitals will free up 2,100 extra beds is incorrect and misleading. There is no evidence to support such action, which would be undesirable and damaging to patient care and their health outcomes.
The proposal to exclude half of all patients from public hospital care (those with health insurance) is contrary to the concept of a public health service.
The Minister for Health and the Government must desist from attempting to privatise acute hospital care by stealth. Instead patients need real plans put in place to open the 2,600 public hospital beds which are urgently needed and provided for in the National Development Plan 2018 to 2027.
Two years into this Plan, there is a continued lack of urgency and complacency in opening those additional beds.
This proposal, if implemented, risks making the already fragile state of our acute public hospitals much worse and does nothing to deliver better care and access to hospital services that patients need and deserve”.
Amanda Glancy, PR360, 01 6371777/087 2273108 email@example.com
Lauren Murphy, PR360, 01 6371777/083 801 5917 firstname.lastname@example.org