In their 2018 pre-budget submission, the Private Hospitals Association (PHA) has called on the Government to double its allocation to the National Treatment Purchase Fund in 2018 to €100 million.
They are seeking a multi-annual funding commitment of €300 million up to 2020 and the removal of private patients from the public hospital system, in accordance with recommendations in the Future of Healthcare Report.
They have also stated that at least €100M needs to be committed to the NTPF in 2018, 2019 and 2020, which would allow private hospitals to allocate resources and make investments which they believe would reduce waiting lists.
CEO Simon Nugent commented: “The national figures currently lie at an all-time high with almost 692,000 patients now waiting for treatment or review in public hospitals, up by 750 since July”.
Mr Nugent also called for the early implementation of a recommendation to end the treatment of privately insured patients in public hospitals, to end the ‘two-tier’ criticism of the public health system.
“The current system encourages managers to fill a €600m funding gap in public hospitals nationally by prioritising treatment for private patients and thus generating extra cash from this source instead.
The Government should clearly signal in Budget 2018 that resources will be available to plug this gap and ensure the capacity that is freed up can be used to treat more public patients.
The first step would be to cut that private patient revenue target by €100m in 2018 and replace it with the same amount from the exchequer, so public hospitals can increase the level of public patient treatment instead”, he claimed.
The PHA is seeking increased tax relief on health insurance contributions by raising the cap on the basic rate income tax relief from €1,000 to €1,250 to encourage people to upgrade their policies.
It is also asking the Department to consider options around enhanced tax relief for patients who do not have health insurance but who choose to pay for their own treatment on a case-by-case basis.
In relation to the Minister for Health’s recent suggestions that the country requires three additional purpose-built hospitals to respond to the demand for elective care, they suggested that private hospitals would have the agility to deliver new infrastructure at a much faster pace.
The PHA represents 19 private hospitals across Ireland and provides treatment to over 400,000 patients annually.