The chief executive of the HSE has lambasted Dublin’s Beacon 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”.
As the Irish Examiner reports, Paul Reid, who was speaking to Katie Hannon on RTÉ Radio One, blasted management of the Beacon for failing to sign up to a deal to allow the HSE to use beds in private hospitals in order to tackle the current Covid-19 crisis.
“I do have to express my extreme frustration that the Beacon has not signed up to that agreement.
We have our public health system facing the biggest crisis, probably, in the history of the state for our health services.
“We have a fantastic team of people across all our hospitals, including private, working relentlessly. But we are racing to save people’s lives here.
"It is beyond frustration for me, and it is beyond belief and comprehension, and I would be urging the board to sign up to the Safety Net agreement."
Beacon management said in response that a vaccination centre was offered to HSE healthcare workers free of charge as a goodwill gesture.
"While engagement is ongoing with the HSE regarding a new centralised arrangement, the Beacon Hospital is of the view that it can treat more public and private patients through its existing arrangements, rather than through an additional new agreement."
Mr Reid said Ireland’s health system has formally gone into surge capacity, with intensive care beds dwindling.
“It is extremely tightened up. In terms of available beds...we have surged that up to around 313...we have 28 beds available for adults and 12 paediatrics at the moment. It is getting extremely tight.”
There are about 480 general beds available across the system, he added.
In terms of intensive care patients, there are around another 250 that were borderline or in the so-called “amber zone”, he said.
“There are still around 250 people not in ICU, but who would be receiving that kind of intensive supports, particularly in terms of oxygen and sometime high-flow oxygen supports,” Mr Reid said.
Beacon hospital response
In response to the comments from Paul Reid, Beacon hospital said in a statement: “Beacon Hospital today confirmed that it is already wearing the green jersey - doing all that it can to support the public system during the ongoing public health crisis. Beacon Hospital is currently treating more public patients than the HSE agreement envisages or asks for and has been doing this for over 4 months.
“Beacon Hospital is treating more public patients than any of the 17 other private hospitals.
“Public patients currently occupy over 55 per cent of our Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and approximately 15 per cent-20 per cent of all surgery for the last four months has been done on behalf of public hospitals such as the Mater Public, St James’ Hospital, Tallaght, Children’s Health Ireland (Crumlin), Tullamore and University Hospital Limerick under existing arrangements.
“Beacon Hospital has declined to sign an additional centralised agreement because it is not willing to give Clinical Governance to the HSE.
“The last HSE Agreement, which Beacon Hospital signed up to, in April to June last year, allowing the HSE take clinical control, led to the hospital being 70 per cent empty for three months.”
They said that seeing that the Beacon Hospital is at full capacity now, treating both private and public patients, and they cannot take the risk of allowing HSE direct clinical governance lead to under-utilisation.