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Taoiseach trying to deceive the public on private hospitals – Morgan

28 February, 2007

Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan has said the Taoiseach is trying to deceive the public about the Government's plan to allocate land at public hospitals to developers to build private for-profit hospitals. He has called on the Taoiseach to set the Dáil record straight and to admit that it plans to sign contracts for these private hospital developments before the General Election.

Deputy Morgan said, "Speaking in the Dáil this morning the Taoiseach stated that he did not know of contracts for private hospital developments at public hospital sites under the Government's so-called co-location plan. The Taoiseach is trying to deceive the public. He must know that bidders for each of the eight hospital sites have already been short-listed and that the 'competitive dialogue' phase of the process has already begun. The preferred bidders will then be invited to tender to build and operate these private for-profit hospitals. The Invitations to Tender will then be issued.

"All of this was set out clearly in a reply from Health Minister Mary Harney to a Dáil question from Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin on 31 January. Minister Harney said she expected the Invitation to Tender to be issued in early March.

"The Government is preparing to sign these deals before the General Election. In order to benefit private profiteers for whom healthcare is a lucrative business they are going to tie the hands of the State with contracts. Fianna Fáil and the PDs have no mandate for this disastrous plan which will see public land and public money in the form of massive tax breaks going towards the privatisation of our health services.

"It is incredible that the Taoiseach could defend this plan and yet claim he knows nothing of contracts. He is trying to have it both ways and to hoodwink the public.

"Sinn Féin is vehemently opposed to this plan and we will continue to fight it. Public money for hospital services should be spent in the public system only with equal access for all based on need alone." ENDS

Note to editor: Question from Deputy Ó Caoláin and answer from Minister attached below.

Question from Deputy Ó Caoláin and answer from Minister attached below.


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

* 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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