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Varadkar says €115m per month is an 'accurate estimate' for cost of renting private hospitals

Minister Simon Harris plans to publish the deal the government struck with the private hospitals.

Image: Graham Hughes/Photocall Ireland

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR has said €115 million a month is an “accurate” estimated cost to the State for the take over of Ireland’s private hospitals during the Covid-19 crisis.

Health Minister Simon Harris told the Dáil that he plans to publish the deal the government struck with the private hospitals shortly.

He said today it’s impossible to say for sure what the final cost will be as no one can be sure how the Covid-19 emergency might play out.

Varadkar said the €115 million figure “is an estimate so it is as accurate as any estimate can be”. 

“It may be right or it may be wrong. It is an accurate estimate but it is not necessarily what the actual cost will be because we will not know that until the end, when the costs are calculated.  

“The agreement made between the HSE and the Private Hospitals Association was that this would be done on a not-for-profit basis; the agreement is for the covering of the costs of the private hospitals,” he said.

At the end of March, private hospitals were made part of the public health system for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic.

Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff were drafted into the public system, with Harris stating at the time that “there can be no room for public versus private” when responding to the Covid-19 crisis.

Labour leader Alan Kelly has been calling for the immediate publication of the licensing agreement reached with the 19 private hospitals. 

“At a minimum people should know the monthly payments that are being made to rent these facilities and how many millions are being spent. The deal over buildings was quickly reached while two weeks on there is still no staffing agreement with private consultants.

“We still have no detail of what is covered in that agreement. There must be transparency and the publication of the value of the deal and how operators and owners will be reimbursed during and after the pandemic for the use of these facilities,” he said.

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