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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 hospital...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.38 14 Jan 2021


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Government working on deal 'for up to 60% of private hospital capacity' - Varadkar


Jack Quann
Jack Quann

17.38 14 Jan 2021


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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.

He was speaking as the latest figures show 1,789 patients are in hospital with COVID-19, with 169 of those in intensive care.

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There have been 154 additional hospitalisations in the past 24 hours.

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".

'Very gradual re-opening'

Mr Varadkar also suggested that a delivery schedule, which could give people an  indication of their vaccination dates, would be premature.

"I know what everybody wants... they would love to get something in the post that tells them exactly what group they're in and when they're going to get it.

"If we did that now, we couldn't necessarily stand over it because there are things that are not under our control that we just don't know yet".

And he said the focus will be on ensuring there are enough people to deploy the vaccines.

In terms of re-opening the country, Mr Varadkar said this will be much slower than before.

"I don't think, as a Government and as a society, we particularly want to risk opening up again as quickly as we did in December."

He said that "any re-opening that we do, in the next three months certainly, is going to be very gradual."

"As well as that we would anticipate that social distancing and restrictions on gatherings will remain in place for many months yet - probably into the summer and autumn, unfortunately".

Extra vaccinations?

Meanwhile more than 77,000 people have been vaccinated against coronavirus as of Wednesday.

This breaks down as 69,378 frontline healthcare workers, 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".

Government working on deal 'for up to 60% of private hospital capacity' - Varadkar

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar pictured at a press briefing in Government Buildings. Picture by: Julien Behal

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Coronavirus Covid-19 Deals With Private Hospitals Leo Varadkar Private Hospital Capacity The Hard Shoulder Vaccine

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