Press Release

Minister Harris welcomes establishment of Independent Review Group examining the removal of private practice from public hospitals

Public consultation launched to hear the views of stakeholders

The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today (Thursday) welcomed the holding of the first meeting of the Independent Review Group to examine the removal of private practice from public acute hospitals. He has also announced the opening of a public consultation and encouraged submissions from members of the public and from interested parties to help inform the process.

Minister Harris said: “The Sláintecare report describes the inherent unfairness in our health system when it comes to accessing care. I have established a Review Group, which is chaired by Dr Donal de Buitléir, to conduct an independent, robust review of removing private practice from public acute hospitals. I have asked Donal and his group to make recommendations to me about the practical approaches that can be taken to removing private practice from public hospitals, the impacts that this removal will have, what timeframe might apply and how to phase it over time.”

Minister Harris today announced the other members of the group, who are: Alan Ahearne; Ann Doherty; Nuala Hunt; and Barry O’Brien.

The Independent Review Group is inviting members of the public and interested parties to make their views heard as part of a consultation process.

The group would like to hear views about the current arrangements in relation to private practice in public acute hospitals; the future direction that such arrangements should take; and suggestions for transitional arrangements to give effect to the future direction. In particular, the group would like to hear views in relation to the following:

– Eligibility, access and equity
– Current and future funding arrangements
– Legislative and legal issues
– Operational matters including specialist services
– Recruitment and retention of personnel; and
– Practical approaches to removing private practice from public hospitals including timeframe and phasing.

Minister Harris added that “the removal of private practice from public hospitals is an important step in ensuring a modern, efficient and safe health service that is accessible and equitable for everybody living in Ireland. I look forward to receiving the group’s report by next September.”

Further details about the consultation process are available at the Department’s website www.health.gov.ie/consultations. Interested parties should email their submission to IRGPrivatePublic@health.gov.ie or by post to Room 424, Hawkins House, Hawkins Street, Dublin 2, D02 VW90. Closing date for submissions is 5pm on Friday, 9 February 2018.

Notes to the Editor

This establishment of the Independent Review Group is a key recommendation arising from Sláintecare, the Report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare

The recommendation in Sláintecare was that “an independent impact analysis should be carried out of the separation of private practice from the public hospital system, with a view to identifying any adverse and unintended consequences that may arise for the public system in the separation.”

The terms of reference of the Group will examine and consider:
– the existing nature, level and role of private practice in public hospitals;
– the negative and positive aspects of private practice in public hospitals, including as regards access to healthcare, equity and the operation of public hospitals;
– what practical approaches might be taken to the removal of private practice from public hospitals, including timeframe and phasing;
– possible impacts, both direct and indirect, immediate and over time, of removing private practice from public hospitals, including but not limited to impacts on: access; hospital activity (including specialist services); funding; recruitment and retention of personnel; and any legal or legislative issues that might arise

The Independent Review Group has been requested to make such recommendations to the Minister as the Group may see fit and to complete the review within nine months.

The other members of the Review Group are:

  • Alan Ahearne, Professor of Economics, NUIG and Central Bank Board member
  • Ann Doherty, Chief Executive Cork City Council; former HSE National Director
  • Nuala Hunt, Chartered Accountant
  • Barry O’Brien, Director of Human Resources UCC; former HSE National Director HR.

This establishment of the Independent Review Group is a key recommendation arising from Sláintecare, the Report of the Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Healthcare.