The HSE agreed a new safety net arrangement in January with all 18 private hospitals to provide additional hospital capacity to the HSE, to deal with the current surge in Covid-19 cases and any further surges in the pandemic, if they arise within the next 12 months.
The private capacity obtained by the HSE is being used to free up capacity in the public hospitals, mainly for urgent, time-dependant and complex care. The HSE and individual private hospitals are working on a collaborative basis to manage the effective flow of patients, having regard to the capabilities of the private hospital concerned.
Patients who are identified as suitable are referred by their public hospital to a private hospital for treatment. The Health Act 1970 (as amended) provides that all persons ordinarily resident in the country are eligible, subject to certain charges, to public in-patient hospital services including consultant services. All persons, irrespective of illness or condition, accessing public in-patient (including day case) services in a public hospital are liable for the statutory in-patient daily charge of €80 up to a maximum of €800 in any period of 12 consecutive months, subject to a number of exemptions, including medical card holders.
Accordingly, patients who have a medical card and are treated in a private hospital under the current arrangement are exempt from the Statutory Public Charges, and the cost of their treatment in the private hospital is covered by the HSE.