'Shocking' practice of private patients being prioritised by hospitals

Laois TD calls on Health Minister to explain policy

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Midlands Regional Hospital, Portlaoise

A Laois person awaiting treatment in the emergency department of the Midlands Regional Hospital in Portlaoise was told that private patients get priority over those without private health insurance, according to Laois TD Sean Fleming, who is calling on the Minister for Health to end this “shocking and completely unacceptable” practice.

The Laois Fianna Fáil TD said that he is very disturbed at reports of patients in emergency departments in public hospitals being skipped over for admittance to that public hospital by patients with private health insurance, and has called on Minister for Health, Simon Harris to clarify the current policy.

“In the last few days, a very upset family has been in touch with me to outline how a family member in an emergency department who was waiting for admission to a ward was told private patients get priority.

“This is a shocking and completely unacceptable proposition. Admittance to hospital should be based on clinical and medical need and not on who can or cannot afford private health insurance,” he said.

Deputy Fleming said he was well aware that public hospitals may have a financial incentive in admitting patients with private health insurance so that they can claim nearly €900 per night from their insurers.

“However, this is the first time I have heard of patients with insurance being given priority in admission to public hospitals over patients without insurance.

“This is not on, and simply not acceptable. Minister Harris must immediately outline his policy on this matter, and explain why he is allowing patients without insurance to be bypassed for admittance,” concluded Deputy Fleming.