Bad deal agreed with private hospitals

08 January 2021

– 70% less beds than secured in first lockdown.

Labour Party Leader, Alan Kelly TD, has said the fact that full capacity could not be secured from private hospitals is disappointing, and that the deal announced by Minister for Health tonight is a bad deal for the public when our acute hospital system is under severe pressure, highlighting that we have access to 70% less beds than in first lockdown.

Deputy Kelly said:

“This is a bad deal that will provide for few general beds, access to fewer ICU beds and a lower number of hospitals than was agreed in the first wave. With far more cases now being detected this is simply not good enough.

“The fact that the Government could only secure 30% of the beds that were provided last time raises serious questions about how prepared the Government were to scale up capacity when needed.

“The Minister for Health should have demanded access to all beds that are available, particularly the ICU beds that are so desperately needed at this time. We are in a national crisis, and the fact that the Minister would say in his statement that these private hospitals might be willing to offer such capacity if required shows a lack of leadership.

“At a time when our country is facing so many unknowns with this virus, it is absolutely shameful that the Beacon Hospital, one of the largest private hospitals in our capital city, chose to opt out of this process.

“The Minister should have demanded access to every single bed they have, and all ICU beds if the need arises. With tens of thousands of cases in the community we needed to ensure all facilities were made available. What this deal shows clearly is that we should be prepared to nationalise some of them.

“The Labour Party has been clear since the start of this pandemic that the Government should have purchased some private hospitals so we could have scaled up ICU capacity within the public hospital network.”

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