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Micheal Martin urges review of private hospitals deal for pandemic

The Fianna Fail leader said it is clear the extra capacity in private hospitals is not required as the surge on Covid-19 cases has not happened.

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Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin speaking to the media outside Leinster House, Dublin ahead of the first sitting of the 33rd Dail (PA)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin speaking to the media outside Leinster House, Dublin ahead of the first sitting of the 33rd Dail (PA)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin speaking to the media outside Leinster House, Dublin ahead of the first sitting of the 33rd Dail (PA)

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said the Government deal with private hospitals has to be reviewed because millions of euro are being spent on capacity that is not being used.

Private hospitals became part of the public health system for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Some 2,000 beds, nine laboratories and thousands of staff were drafted into the public system.

Last month, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told the Dail the deal is costing the taxpayer 115 million euro per month.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the deal with private hospitals should end and as the anticipated surge in coronavirus cases has not materialised.

Speaking in the Dail on Thursday, he said: “For months it has been clear that this surge capacity is not likely to be required at present.”

“The private hospital deal has been very expensive and I understand the rationale behind it but it has been coupled now with a wider under-utilisation of capacity.”

“It is a perfectly legitimate question to ask about why we are spending many millions on hospital capacity that we do not believe we will need and we could quickly re-contract if an unexpected surge were to happen.”

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A medical worker gives two thumbs up at St James’s Hospital in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

A medical worker gives two thumbs up at St James’s Hospital in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

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A medical worker gives two thumbs up at St James’s Hospital in Dublin (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Martin also raised the issue of Covid-19 clusters in meat processing plants and said plants with cases should be closed temporarily for cleaning to be carried out.

“The situation in meat plants is gravely serious.

“It is now obvious that these clusters are being dealt with comprehensively.

“We are now calling for the shutting down of the sector.

“It seems surprising that the blanket testing of the facilities is followed by no disruption of work.

“Would it not be reasonable to halt production of work for a deep clean of the plants and putting in place new control measures while waiting for the results.

“Simply sending workers back to work and back to their families does not make sense.

“There has been a significant lack of transparency around the issue…the numbers are high (in meat plants) around the country.

“We need to get on the factory floors to see what the reality is like.”

PA