Coronavirus: Government working on deal ‘for up to 60% of private hospital capacity’ – Varadkar

The Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said the Government is working on agreements with private hospitals, to use up to 60% of their capacity.

However this is different to the deal that was used in 2020, as these are individual agreements with hospitals as opposed to a blanket deal.

Mr Varadkar told The Hard Shoulder: “Some of them are hospital groups, but they’re individual agreements.

“Last time we’d a blanket one, and we just took over the hospitals entirely: this is different”.

“We can access – depending on how much we need – 15%, 30% or 60% -but we’re now heading for the 60%.”

He also explained that, unlike the previous agreement, the Government will only pay for the space that is used.

“Last time we paid a lot for capacity we didn’t need – but I don’t regret making that decision – it was the right one at the time.

“This is slightly different: we only pay for the capacity that we use”.

Extra vaccinations?

Meanwhile more than 77,000 people have been vaccinated against COVID-19 as of Wednesday.

This breaks down as 69,378 frontline healthcare workers vaccinated, and 7,925 in long-term care facilities

The HSE says some 4,000 people have been trained to issue vaccines in anticipation of a further roll-out of the vaccination programme.

Mr Varadkar explained there are plans to publish daily vaccination figures, but this will not be straight away.

He said it is likely to be February before this happens.

“It will be daily, but not right away.

“It’ll go up and initially be updated every few days, and we’ll move to daily reporting once the IT systems are up and running and tested and working properly.

“It’ll be February”.

But he said there is no option to Ireland to get more vaccines privately.

He said while Germany got more supplies, this was before a European Union agreement kicked in.

“We have ordered, through the European Union, a lot of the Pfizer vaccine, but unfortunately the amount we’re getting now – and it’s the same for every other EU country – won’t increase until… April, then we’ll have a lot more the Pfizer vaccine”.

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