Sinn Féin Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has branded the non-use of Private Hospital beds and facilities during the COVID-19 Pandemic as “an outrageous misuse of taxpayers’ money”.

Teachta Crowe was responding to a reply from Minister for Health Simon Harris which confirms that many of the private hospital beds had less than half occupancy or were not used at all.

Teachta Crowe said:

“While having serious reservations about the eventual cost to the Irish taxpayer of the takeover of private hospitals, I, like many others, welcomed the HSE decision to substantially increase the capacity of public healthcare facilities to deal with the expected demand coming from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Dáil COVID-19 Committee was told just this week that the cost of taking over the private hospitals will be roughly €300 million.

“It is criminal therefore that resources and beds that became available from this hugely expensive deal had less than half occupancy or in some hospitals were not used at all.

“As a result of this deal, surgeries and many other specialist procedures were cancelled.

“Quality of life operations, tests, and procedures continue to be on hold many because of ‘health and safety reasons’ while COVID-free sites lay empty or underused.

“Waiting lists, already long, have become even longer with screenings for cancers and other life-threatening diseases all but suspended while these beds and resources lie unused.

“The numbers waiting more than three months for endoscopy towards the end of February have gone from 11,801 to 17,664 at the end of April.

“Similarly, orthopaedic procedures have gone from 6,134 waiting in February to 8,672 by the end of April.
“Priorities procedure like endoscopy, cardiology, cardiovascular, urology, and orthopaedics have all but stopped.

“This is unacceptable and is simply criminal while beds and resource lie untapped and unused in these private hospitals.

“The clear lack of planning for these beds demonstrates an inherent weakness in the HSE; that is unable to adapt, change and react to change and opportunities when they present themselves.”