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Private hospitals co-location plan should be stopped before contracts are signed – Ó Caoláin

1 February, 2007


For immediate release 1st February 2007:

Private hospitals co-location plan should be stopped before contracts are signed - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on Health Minister Mary Harney to scrap her plan to allocate land at public hospital sites to the developers of private hospitals before contracts are signed and the State is bound by legal agreements. In reply to a Dáil Question from Deputy Ó Caolain, Minister Harney has stated that the Health Service Executive envisages that the 'Invitation to Tender' will issue in March.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "The Minister for Health and Children should halt this process now before the State becomes bound by legal contracts which will be signed once tenders are accepted.

"There is widespread opposition to the Government's disgraceful plan to massively subsidise the private health industry by allocating land at public hospital sites as well as tax breaks to the developers of private for-profit hospitals. This crazy plan is being proceeded with at unknown cost, pouring public money into the pockets of millionaires for whom health is just another profitable business. This public money should be spent in the public system only on services that are available to all based on need alone.

"This Fianna Fáil/PD Government is using this plan to privatise our hospital system. All parties in opposition have now come out against this plan which will fundamentally alter the health system in this State and which will make it even more inequitable than it is at present.

"The Government has no mandate for this. It was never put before the people in an election manifesto by either the PDs or Fianna Fáil. It was not in the National Health Strategy. It was not in the Programme for Government. The Government is at the end of its term, its mandate has almost run out, yet it wants to force through this privatisation plan at all costs before the General Election. This should be stopped and stopped now." ENDS

Dáil question and answer from Minister below:

Dáil question and answer from Minister below:

QUESTION NO: 867

DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Ms. Harney (Dublin Mid-West))

by Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

for WRITTEN ANSWER on 31/01/2007 addressed to the Minister for Health and Children (Ms. Harney (Dublin Mid-West))for on

* To ask the Minister for Health and Children the position of her private hospital co-location plan; the number of contracts which have been agreed; the hospital sites involved; and if she will make a statement on the matter.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin T.D.

The Health Services Executive (HSE) is currently undertaking a procurement exercise to select consortia to build and operate private hospitals on 8 public hospital sites. The hospitals involved are:

Limerick Regional Hospital

Waterford Regional Hospital

Cork University Hospital

St James' Hospital

Beaumont Hospital

Connolly Hospital (Blanchardstown)

Adelaide & Meath Hospital Incorporating the National Children's Hospital (Tallaght)

Sligo General Hospital

The shortlisted bidders for each site are currently engaged in the competitive dialogue phase of the process with the HSE and the relevant hospitals.

The key objective of the competitive dialogue phase is to explore different options for meeting the core requirements identified in respect of each public hospital site. The preferred bidders will then be invited to tender to build and operate private hospitals in accordance with the specifications determined. The HSE envisages that the Invitation to Tender will issue in early March.

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