The Association began as a loose group of like-minded doctors in April 2020. The Private Hospitals Association (PHA), at the time of the anticipated Covid pandemic, signed up unilaterally to an HSE government contract without Full-time Private Practice Consultants being meaningfully involved in the decision-making process. Likewise, the medical representative associations did not become, in our opinion, robustly involved on behalf of Full-time Private practice doctors.
This HSE leased Private hospital agreement temporarily changed these Private hospitals into public only institutions. Overnight, 2.2 million patients representing 45% of the Irish population were denied their normal care pathway and doctors could not provide continuity of care.
While generally initially welcomed, as a means of addressing urgent bed capacity issues in the Public hospitals, it became immediately apparent that Consultants were unexpectedly placed under enormous state pressure to sign up to a Public only A contract preventing maintenance of continuity of patient care. This had particular relevance for those patients normally seen in the outpatient office setting. Access to inpatient care was hindered by temporary withdrawal of State indemnity. Doctors in many cases declined to sign, opting to provide pro bono care to the highest medical and ethical standards.
Doctors and Dentists campaigned and lobbied on behalf of their patients successfully engaging with TV, radio, newspapers and social media, lobbying politicians and informing the public, fortunately obtaining a satisfactory outcome. This PHA contract of indeterminate duration was rescinded after 3 months in June 2020.