I propose to take Questions Nos. 533, 534, 535 and 536 together.
Under the Health Services (In-Patient) Regulations 1991, a consultant's private patients must ordinarily be accommodated in private or semi-private beds, while consultant's public patients must ordinarily be accommodated in public beds. However, a patient being admitted to hospital as an emergency admission shall be accommodated in whatever bed is available.
Under the Health (In-Patient Charges) Regulations, 1987, as amended by the Health (In-Patient Charges) (Amendment) Regulations, 1997, a person is liable for a statutory charge unless otherwise exempt, in respect of in-patient public hospital services. The current charge of £25 in respect of each day during which a person is maintained up to a maximum of £250, is applicable to both public and private patients. In addition, private and semi-private maintenance charges are applicable to private patients accommodated in designated private beds.
The Health (Amendment) Act, 1991 removed the entitlement to combine public and private elements of in-patient care at the same time. The position now is that every patient is entitled to full public hospital services including public accommodation and public consultant care. Alternatively one can opt to be the private patient of both the consultant and the hospital. Where a patient chooses to be a private patient, then he/she is liable for consultant fees even when, for reasons of lack of availability of a private bed, he/she has to, as an emergency admission, occupy a public bed.