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Hospital Group Targets will impact public patients – O’Reilly

16 November, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

This morning at a meeting on health service reform at the Future Health Committee, representatives from the hospital groups confirmed that they have been set unrealistic ‘stretch’ income targets. Responding to questions from Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD, the National Director Acute Hospital Division of the HSE Liam Woods confirmed that the HSE have set targets for the hospital groups for the generation of private income.

Speaking after the meeting, Deputy O’Reilly said:  

“Representatives from the hospital groups today identified that unrealistic ‘stretch’ income targets posed a threat for the hospital groups. This is very concerning. It is very clear from the exchange with the groups that hospital trusts will pursue the generation of income from private patients, as a result of these targets.

 “With the inclusion in the Programme for Government of the proposal to establish independent stand-alone trusts, which will essentially have the power to generate income privately, the stretch targets that have been set will result in hospitals choosing to use their beds, staff, capacity and resources for that purpose, at the expense of public patients.

“With all the programme for Government talk of financial management, private sector providers and financial management, these trusts are as risk of becoming wrapped up in looking at income and finances, rather than integrating with health services and outcomes,  prevention and primary care. The idea of aggressively pursuing private income will obviously impact on public services and the HSE were unable to tell us where and who will be targeted.

 “I also questioned the representatives on what would happen if these challenging targets were not met. While they were reluctant to identify specifically what will be cut if, and when, these targets are not met, it is clear that there will have to be cuts. Mr Woods advised that these cuts wouldn't impact patients but he was unable to say where the impact would be felt.  Neither would he confirm the existence of a fund to offset this.

“It is very clear that there are very worrying challenges for our hospitals in the future resulting from the establishment of trusts, and the disassociation of the HSE and the Department with their oversight. The Minister for Health Simon Harris must make a clear statement public patients will not be precluded from being seen and treated, as a result of hospitals drive to generate income from private patients. We need to see universal health care and healthcare to the highest bidder will not achieve that.” 

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