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‘The process of healthcare reform can also help establish a level playing field between the private and public systems. We believe the current strategy of double-charging private patients for beds in public hospitals and charging private patients 10 times the public rate is a flawed one. This undermines confidence in the value of private health insurance and directly raises premiums. Such increases trigger a downgrading of policies, shifting demand back towards public hospitals’ – Simon Nugent, CEO of the PHA

The Private Hospitals Associations (PHA) has welcomed the proposal by the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare to transfer the responsibility of care for private patients from public hospitals to private ones. The association regards this as a possible solution for Ireland’s long hospital waiting lists, as expanding capacity and expertise in the private system could remove pressure from the public system.

Simon Nugent, the CEO of the PHA said: “It makes sense to take patients with private health insurance out of the public system and this initiative could be implemented very quickly.” Mr Nugent had even suggested this transfer of patients could commence within the first year of a new strategy, rather than year two as suggested by the Committee. Mr Nugent outlined the advantages that Irish private hospitals have over their public counterparts, such as cutting-edge diagnostics, beds, personnel at consultant level and the outcomes to justify such a move.

He noted that, while the private sector make approximately 1 million bed nights available to the Irish healthcare system each year and employ over 8,100 healthcare professionals across Ireland, the public system has fewer beds than it did in 1980.

He stated: “The process of healthcare reform can also help establish a level playing field between the private and public systems. We believe the current strategy of double-charging private patients for beds in public hospitals and charging private patients 10 times the public rate is a flawed one. This undermines confidence in the value of private health insurance and directly raises premiums. Such increases trigger a downgrading of policies, shifting demand back towards public hospitals.” Another positive that could stem from the Government’s proposal is the opportunity to stimulate more private sector investment as well as public capital in health infrastructure. Mr Nugent claimed that private providers “stand willing to invest in additional beds, operating theatres and other facilities if there was policy certainty that a greater number of privately insured patients would be referred to such hospitals”.