Speeches

Speech by Minister O’Malley on the occasion of the Gala evening the Beacon Hospital

Chief Executive, Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to thank Mr Michael Cullen,Chief Executive and Chairman of the Beacon Medical Group, for inviting me here to-night to join with the medical community and their partners in celebrating the official opening of this new, state of the art facility, at Beacon Hospital in Sandyford, Dublin.

This is the first, privately funded, independent hospital to be built in Dublin in over 20 years. When fully operational it, will employ some 450 people.

Services at the Beacon Hospital

The new Beacon Hospital will have 183 in patient beds and 25 day places with 8 operating theatres and diagnostic facilities such as CT and MRI. When fully operational the Hospital will treat some 17,000 patients each year.

Health Strategy and Private Health Care

There has always been a strong history of partnership in the delivery of our health service. I look forward to yet another mutually beneficial partnership between the Public and Private sector through this venture. The Government’s Health Strategy recognises scope for the private sector to play a significantly enhanced role in providing acute hospital care. Increasingly the private sector is taking on this challenge. A prime example of this is private hospital co- operation with the National Treatment Purchase Fund. I will refer further to the Fund later.

In order to encourage a greater input by the private sector, significant tax relief on investment in private hospitals has been provided in the Finance Acts in recent years. I have no doubt that Beacon will avail of this relief.

Health Reform

The Irish Government has invested very significant resources in health and personal social service reform in recent years. I do not have to remind those of you who work in the Irish health services of the many challenges that face us on a daily basis in the various aspects of health care delivery. It behoves all of us, as health care providers, to ensure that we develop our health care system as a whole, and each component in harmony with all of the others.

The Health Service Executive, operating as a single national entity, will facilitate such an approach.

The Executive is breaking new ground in developing strategic relationships with private Providers in a number of areas, such as:-

  • Renal dialysis services. Beacon has already established a service level agreement with the HSE to provide dialysis to public patients. This is a very welcome development.
  • Co location of Private Hospitals Project. The Minister for Health and Children proposes to transfer private activity currently being carried out in up to 1,000 beds in Public Hospitals to new private hospitals on the grounds of public hospitals. The beds freed up in the public hospitals will then be used for public patients. The process of selecting suitable candidates to build and operate these private hospitals is underway.

There is undoubtedly scope for further linkages between the public and private sectors going forward.

Consultants Contract

One of the major aspects of Health Reform is the negotiation of a new contract for consultants. In this regard, I am happy that talks are to resume soon in relation to the consultants contract. Management objectives for a new contract include achieving a consultant–provided rather than a consultant – led service with greater flexibility in work practices and working times for consultants. My colleague, the Minister for Health and Children is anxious that all parties engage in intensive negotiations between now and the end of the year.

Safety and Quality

The policy of this Government is to provide safe, high-quality services that achieve the best possible outcomes for patients. I am pleased to learn that the accreditation process with Joint Commission International is well advanced by Beacon Private Hospital. This is a clear sign of the hospitals commitment to a quality ethos.

The Beacon Hospital was developed by the Beacon Medical Group and will be managed by Triad Hospitals, one of the largest hospital operators in the US. It will be affiliated to the world – famous Johns Hopkins Hospital in Maryland to provide health education and consulting services to the hospital’s physicians and nurses. I understand, this hospital represents Triad’s first venture outside the US and I wish them every success.

Beacon Hospital is the European showcase for General Electric equipment with advanced radiology equipment under one roof. It has a joint Programme with the University of Pittsburg Medical Centre’s in relation to cancer treatment.

I mentioned the National Treatment Purchase Fund earlier in my remarks and I am happy to say that Beacon Hospital has been in contact with the Fund with a view to treating public patients. The Fund was established with the remit to reduce public waiting lists. In approaching this issue the Fund has taken up capacity in private hospitals in Ireland and the UK. I am very pleased at the success of the Fund to date. Since referring its first patient in the summer of 2002 the Fund has arranged treatment for 48,000 patients.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to congratulate Professor Redmond, Mr. Michael Cullen, Chief Executive and Paddy Shovlin, for bringing the Beacon Hospital project on stream which is a great achievement and I wish you and all the staff involved every success into the future.

Have an enjoyable night.

Thank you.