Coronavirus latest: Cork consultant warning about potential impact of proposed use of private hospitals

Coronavirus latest: Cork consultant warning about potential impact of proposed use of private hospitals

Last month, the Government announced it had reached agreement with private hospitals, such as the Bon Secours in Cork, to use their facilities for the treatment of both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients.

A Cork consultant has warned that the current contractual arrangements being proposed by the HSE for private consultants could impact existing patients and potentially impact emergency departments.

Last month, the Government announced it had reached agreement with private hospitals to use their facilities for the treatment of both Covid-19 and non-Covid-19 patients.

According to the Irish Hospital Consultants Association (IHCA) around 500 consultants working at these hospitals, who currently treat private patients only, are to receive temporary HSE locum contracts to cover their work during the Covid-19 crisis period.

However, the IHCA says many of these consultants have expressed concern about the terms of such contracts and specifically, their negative impact on the patients they currently treat.

It says under the proposed terms of these contracts, consulting rooms will be forced to shut to outpatients, for both current and future private outpatients who may be attending for reasons such as possible cancer-related symptoms, post-operative wounds or blocked catheter issues.

Dr Oisin O’Connell: Said all hospital consultants, whether public or private, are anxious to play their part in the delivery of frontline hospital care during this national emergency, however, he said all solutions must not add to the existing pressures across our hospitals.
Dr Oisin O’Connell: Said all hospital consultants, whether public or private, are anxious to play their part in the delivery of frontline hospital care during this national emergency, however, he said all solutions must not add to the existing pressures across our hospitals.

Dr Oisin O’Connell, who is a respiratory consultant at the Bon Secours Hospital in Cork, said that the current contractual arrangements being proposed would not only result in the withdrawal of private hospitals consultants’ ability to provide ongoing care to their existing patients but “would equally prevent private patients presenting with new medical issues from being treated.”

“Without access to consulting rooms, private patients with urgent and ongoing medical needs will now present for care to emergency departments at acute public hospitals, all of which are already experiencing pressures in managing Covid-19.

“Private only consultants believe the solution to this issue lies in a contractual arrangement which enables these consultants meet their obligations under the proposed HSE temporary locum contracts but also permits them to continue to treat their private patients outside of their HSE contract hours,” he said.

Dr O’Connell said all hospital consultants, whether public or private, “are eager and anxious” to play their part in the delivery of frontline hospital care during this national emergency, however, he said “all solutions must be well thought out and not add to the existing pressures across our hospitals.”

He added: “We are continuing to liaise with the Department of Health and HSE to ensure that all proposed measures protect all patients and their access to quality care.”

Negotiations are ongoing as the number of people being treated for Covid-19 in Ireland continues to climb.

It was announced yesterday evening that 16 more people have died, and 370 more cases of Covid-19 have been confirmed. It brings to 174 deaths, and 5,364 the total number of diagnosed cases of coronavirus in Ireland.

There are now 362 confirmed cases in Cork, making up 7% of the overall figure, while Dublin has the highest number of cases with 2,692 or 55%.

Of the 174 deaths confirmed in Ireland, 132 of those, or 76% were in hospitals, with 20 or 12% in ICU.

73% of patients who died have been confirmed to have an underlying illness. The median age of those who died was 81.

Of the 4,916 cases of Covid-19 confirmed in Ireland up to Saturday at midnight, the median age of those infected was 49.

Overall, 46% are male and 54% are female, with 260 clusters involving 989 cases 1,263 cases or 26% are associated with healthcare workers.

Dr Colm Henry, chief clinical officer HSE, said; “Our Healthcare system has been preparing for a surge in Covid-19 cases but it is important to remind people that our hospitals continue to carry out all emergency and essential activity.”

Asked about the extension of restrictions, Dr Tony Holohan said he will be as open and honest as possible with people throughout the week so that the official decision on Friday isn’t a surprise to people.
Asked about the extension of restrictions, Dr Tony Holohan said he will be as open and honest as possible with people throughout the week so that the official decision on Friday isn’t a surprise to people.

Asked about limited testing, Dr Holohan said they’re testing as many people as they can but have to prioritise in certain areas.

He has also appealed to people to adhere to the public health guidelines as the weather improves.

“We want people to adhere to the public health advice we’ve issued,” he said. “That includes travel.”

Asked about the extension of restrictions, Dr Tony Holohan said he will be as open and honest as possible with people throughout the week so that the official decision on Friday isn’t a surprise to people.

Research conducted on behalf of the Department of Health, a nationally representative online survey of 1,270 adults conducted yesterday revealed:

The percentage of people stockpiling has reduced from a peak of 43% in mid-March to 20% today.

86% of people believe that current government restrictions are “about right”.

67% are interacting with family and friends over the phone.

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