Press Release

Minister announces 850 beds under Public Private Partnership in the Health Sector

Mr. Micheál Martin, TD, Minister for Health and Children, today (29 July) announced his Department’s plans to pilot a Public Private Partnership initiative in the Health Sector. Initially, the focus will be mainly in the area of Community Nursing Units for Older People.

The Public Private Partnership ( PPP) will be piloted in the Eastern Regional Health Authority (ERHA) and in the Southern Health Board (SHB), since these are the two areas in which the need for additional long stay beds is most acute. The pilot projects will be developed consistent with affordability and value for money criteria set out in Department of Finance guidelines. This phase will also include the development of a Policy Framework Document for the health sector, which will provide procurement guidance for all health boards to ensure value for money for the Exchequer is delivered in all projects. The document will inform health sector policy and will facilitate the extension of the PPP Pilot Programme to all health boards where appropriate.

The pilot projects will in the first instance concentrate on the provision of long stay accommodation for older people in Community Nursing Units (CNUs). The services offered in these units will include assessment / rehabilitation, respite, extended care, elderly mentally infirm and convalescent. Day Centres for the elderly will be combined with the Community Nursing Units (50 beds) in each site to help promote the dignity and independence of older people and to support them in living at home.

In addition, Central Services Units, which provide corporate support functions including adequate staff accommodation, will be considered for a PPP where appropriate and the Department will be considering this matter further as part of the development of the PPP Programme.

It is anticipated that 17 new Community Nursing Units will be created when the PPP initial Pilot Programme is complete, providing up to a maximum of 850 new beds. The EHRA will provide 9 new Community Nursing Units (3 in each of the area health boards), giving a total of 450 new beds. The SHB will provide 8 new Community Nursing Units giving a total of 400 new beds. The intention is that these pilot projects should provide a sound and sustainable basis to possibly extend the PPP process in the future to a range of other areas in the Health Sector where it can provide the optimum benefits for patients consistent with affordability and value for money considerations. The preferred model for PPPs is one where the private partner designs, builds, finances and operates the facility (DBOF).

Since 1998, 15 new CNUs and 15 new day care centres have been created using the traditional procurement method. The Health Strategy “Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You” proposes a number of developments with regard to services for older people. It acknowledges that the proportion of older people in Ireland is increasing at a rapid rate and estimates would suggest that by the year 2011 the population aged 65 years and older will have grown by 23%. In order to cope with the anticipated demand it will be necessary to significantly expand current services. The provision of the additional beds to be provided under the Pilot PPP Programme will free up acute hospital beds where older people may be inappropriately placed and provide a higher quality of care for those people who require the various services provided by Community Nursing Units.

Minister Martin stated that “I have set up a PPP Unit in my Department which will be responsible for co-ordinating the pilot programmes with the relevant health boards/authority, for the development of a PPP Policy Framework for the Health Sector and to encourage good practice and innovative approaches in the health boards/authority”.