Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Ceisteanna (1278)

Róisín Shortall


1278. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health his views on reports that some private hospitals plan to charge patients up to €250 for a Covid-19 test before they can undergo a procedure in the hospital; if clarity will be obtained from private hospitals in respect of the matter in view of the substantial funds received by such hospitals from the State during the Covid-19 emergency period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15888/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

As the Deputy will be aware, I do not have any responsibility for private hospitals, including in relation to charges that they apply.

An arrangement was agreed with the private hospitals earlier in the year to use their facilities as part of the public system on a temporary basis, to provide essential services in anticipation of additional demand on public hospital services. Under the arrangement, all patients in private hospitals were treated as public patients while the agreement was in place. On review, the Government decided that the existing arrangement should not be extended beyond the end of June, and on 1st July 2020 all private hospitals reverted to private activity. The Department of Health does not have a role in the operational functions of private hospitals.

More broadly in relation to testing, the HSE has developed guidance for the management of planned hospital admissions for non-COVID care which sets out advisory testing strategies for hospital patients. This guidance seeks to provide an advisory framework for mitigating risks associated with the delivery of non-COVID care while COVID-19 continues to be prevalent, and testing provides one of a number of measures that can be taken to reduce risk.

As with any procedure or test, there will be a cost. I am not in a position to comment on what the actual cost may be in private hospitals, however, I understand that the costs arising from testing for COVID-19 in public hospitals is much lower than the upper charges quoted by the Deputy.

In addition, I can confirm that the NTPF have advised my Department that no patient is liable for any charge from a private hospital for services arranged by the NTPF.