Statement by Irish Hospital Consultants Association

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association is the representative body for over 90% of all hospital consultants. Our members are to the fore of the current national effort to contain and treat the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are working closely with all stakeholders to ensure the delivery of health care services across the State, particularly in our acute hospitals. This work includes both COVID-19 care and meeting the healthcare needs of patients who present at our hospitals with all other medical issues.

In recent days, the IHCA have been engaging with the Department of Health and HSE on the terms under which hospital consultants currently working only in the private hospital sector can also undertake work in public hospitals in response to the COVID-19 crisis.

Our members who fall into this category are extremely aware of the extent of the capacity and resourcing challenges which face our health service at this time. Equally, they are hugely committed to playing their part and making a significant contribution to frontline healthcare during this crisis.

There are, however, a number of outstanding issues which have yet to be clarified by the Department of Health in respect of the changes in work practices which result from private hospital consultants now working in a public capacity, including the need to allow continuity of care.

Clarification on these issues is essential to allow private hospital consultants to immediately commence treating public patients.

Such clarification ensures, notwithstanding the unprecedented and demanding circumstances all front line healthcare staff are now operating in, that consultants can make the greatest possible contribution to supporting patients and their families at this time, whilst also protecting the quality of care delivered to all patients.

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