Beacon Hospital chief defends decision not to sign Covid-19 surge capacity deal

Beacon Hospital Chief Defends Decision Not To Sign Covid-19 Surge Capacity Deal
Michael Cullen said the hospital had taken its position after its experience during the previous surge.
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By Vivienne Clarke

The CEO of the Beacon Hospital has defended its decision not to sign an agreement with the HSE to provide surge capacity facilities during the pandemic.

Michael Cullen told RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland that the hospital had taken its position because of its experience during a previous surge of the virus, during which it ended up 70 per cent empty when it would ordinarily operate at over 90 per cent capacity.


Mr Cullen's comments come as at the weekend, HSE chief Paul Reid criticised the private hospital for not offering beds despite “extremely tightened up” capacity across the country during “the biggest health crisis in the history of the state”.

Mr Cullen said the issue had never been about money. He said it was about the fact they had a system that was geared to operate at full capacity, but they were able to treat only 30 per cent of the patients they normally would.

“A huge number of patients did not get treated who should have been treated during that time,” he said of the previous surge of Covid-19 infection.

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The issue was the hospital's need to have operational control, Mr Cullen said.


A new agreement from the HSE had been received by the hospital on Sunday night which went “a long way” towards addressing the concerns, he said, and there was a desire to sign up to a deal.

When asked if the hospital had spare capacity at present, Mr Cullen said its ICU was at 50 per cent but would be at full capacity later on Monday as there were significant public patient surgeries scheduled.

The hospital was providing “significant capacity” to the public system through surgeries, diagnostics and intensive care, which was why Mr Cullen said he was “disappointed” in the comments made by Mr Reid.

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