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Private beds increased to cut deficits
[Posted: Fri 26/08/2011 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Private bed numbers are being cut at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda so that other hospitals in the HSE Dublin-North East region can convert their public beds to private and boost their income.
The Drogheda hospital, which has an excess of private beds, is to have some of them redistributed among other hospitals, including major hospitals in Dublin.
While overall bed numbers will not change in any of the hospitals, the move will lead to an increase in the number of public beds in Drogheda but will result in a cut in public bed numbers in the other hospitals in the region.
The bed redesignation is being carried out in a bid to increase some hospitals' private income and thereby reduce their large deficits.
irishhealth.com has learned that the HSE has decided to redesignate 46 private beds from Drogheda to be shared among the Mater; Beaumont; St Joseph's, Raheny; Connolly; Cappagh; Dundalk, and the Rotunda hospitals.
The Mater will get an additional 19 private beds, while Connolly is to get eight and Beaumont six.
A HSE spokesperson told irishhealth.com that the redesignation of private beds has the potential in a full year to raise an additional €11.5 million in income for hospitals in the Dublin-North East region, and €5.8 million for a half-year.
The health executive says Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda has historically had 35% of acute beds designated as private, which is significantly higher than the norm for acute hospitals. The official private bed threshold is 20%.
The HSE said Dublin North-East has the lowest percentage private bed designation of its four administrative regions.
"This redesignation does not lead to any hospital exceeding the 20% threshold for private bed capacity other than those which for historical reasons were already ahead of this threshold. In the main hospital where this was the case (Drogheda), the redesignation will reduce the private bed percentage towards that 20% threshold."
The other Dublin-North East hospitals were understood to be largely below the 20% private bed limit prior to the redesignation.
The redesignation does not mean that beds will be physically moved from Drogheda to the other hospitals. Rather, Drogheda will designate its previously private beds as public while the others will simultaneously be allowed convert some public beds to private status.
The private-public bed change may lead to concerns over access to hospital care for public patients, given that a number of hospitals will now have fewer public beds.
However, the HSE told irishhealth.com the redesignation should not affect access for public patients. A spokesperson pointed out that in fact, the projected increase in private income would benefit public patients as it would help cut hospital deficits and preserve services which otherwise might have been reduced.
The HSE said given the current level of hospital deficits, it was important to stress that meeting the overriding objective of protecting access for public patients was dependent on it being able to deliver on its 'break-even' requirements.
According to the HSE, its Dublin-North East region had an imperative to achieve financial break-even while delivering on the level of services outlined in its service plan.
It said the generation of private income must necessarily be controlled, to ensure private patients do not unfairly gain access advantages over their public counterparts.
"However, it is also the case that the generation of appropriate amounts of income from private patients is an imperative for the hospitals as (the HSE) assists hospitals to avoid or limit alternative service impacting measures as part of their requirement to operate within the budget available to them," the HSE said.
Currently, the Mater Hospital and Beaumont are running deficits of over €5 million while Connolly Hospital has a deficit of €4.2 million.
The Mater has projected that its deficit could grow to €10-€12 million by the end of the year unless it implements savings measures. It is to get 15 new semi-private beds and four private day case places, according to the HSE.
Hospitals throughout the country are currently either planning of implementing savings measures, including staff and bed cuts, to deal with their deficits.
|zebedee Posted: 29/08/2011 11:07|
Let's get this right, James Conolly, Blanchardstown currently has bed closures, some of which will continue right through to next year. Many public hospital waiting lists are going up and now it's planned for more private bed allocations in other hospitals, while public beds in Drogheda go up.
This is the same public hospital that gets slated in every inspection and has a very bad track record of HCAI's!
So, public can go where incompetence and bad practice rules, overall public beds are cut and private beds can go up in some hospitals. THIS IS RIDICULOUS!
This is supposed to be a PUBLIC HEALTH SERVICE, with the purpose of treating the public on the basis of need. This is YET ANOTHER clear example of why public and private should be compeletely seperate.
Zebedee -who surely can't be the only one who sees the madness in health service management in this country?
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