News & Media

Nationalisation of one or two private hospitals must be examined

2 June 2020

Statement by Duncan Smith TD
Party Whip and Spokesperson on Climate Action, Communications Networks and Transport.

Labour Party member of the Covid-19 Response Committee, Duncan Smith TD, has said that any further negotiations with private hospitals should include considerations to nationalise one or two private hospitals.

Deputy Smith said:

“Following my questioning at the Covid-19 Response Committee today, the Department of Health and HSE confirmed to me that buying one or two private hospitals has not been considered as of yet by the State.

“As we understand the State is due to enter further negotiations with the private hospitals for use of beds  in the months ahead. It would be remiss of the State not to use this as an opportunity to get genuine costings for purchasing private hospitals.

“With or without Covid on our shores we have serious capacity issues when it comes to our hospitals, especially in winter time. We now have a unique opportunity to use the renegotiation of this deal to change the landscape of Irish healthcare.

“At this morning’s committee we were provided with a very sobering account of what our health service might look like come December - overcrowded wards, over one million people on a waiting lists, ICU capacity maxed out and not enough staff to cover shifts. We can help avoid this if the right decisions are made now.

“It was particularly disappointing that the current deal with the private hospitals is to be terminated at the end of June without a plan in place for how we reopen our public health service.

“We need assurances now from the HSE and the Minister for Health that the capacity we have in our private hospitals until the end of June will be utilised in the most efficient way possible for public patients with priority given to patients who had long-awaited appointments cancelled in the last twelve weeks.

“We have an opportunity to improve capacity for public patients. We cannot go back to the system that was in place before - pumping money into private healthcare via the National Treatment Purchase Fund.”