PLANS to develop a private hospital on the grounds of the Mid-Western Regional Hospital Dooradoyle have been abandoned after the HSE last week refused to grant a time extension to the backers of co-located hospitals.
Beacon Medical Group had won the competition to build the private hospital in Limerick and also secured full planning permission. But final contracts had not been agreed, partly due to a stand-off with state insurer the VHI over whether patients would be covered. The new Minister for Health James Reilly had flagged during the election campaign that he would see his predecessor Mary Harney’s co-location plan “consigned to the dustbin”. And BMG – which has spent €30 million to date planning private hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Limerick – is now reported to be considering suing the state.
BMG told the Limerick Leader last month that the Dooradoyle project - an investment of €230 million that would have created 500 jobs in construction and over 500 permanent posts in operation - was to have been the first to proceed. Demand for private beds was most acute in the Mid-West region, a BMG spokesperson said, as “Limerick does not have a major private hospital”.
Both Fine Gael and Labour opposed the co-location plan while Fianna Fail’s Deputy Niall Collins spoke in favour of BMG’s plans during the election campaign.
He said that the would have “freed up beds in the Regional Hospital for public patients that are currently occupied by private patients”.
Opponents of co-location objected to generous tax breaks available to the backers of private hospitals being built on public lands and predicted the private hospitals would cherry-pick elective procedures to maximise profits, leaving the more complex cases to public hospitals.