The creation of a ‘designated private’ wing is being considered at University Hospital Waterford (UHW) to free up other beds for public patients.
It’s understood the possibility was raised at an Executive Management Board (EMB) meeting at the hospital earlier this year, with the suggestion made that the wing be located on the top three floors of the planned Regional Specialist Inpatient Unit and Day Service in Palliative Medicine.
Enabling works on this €20 million unit commenced on the grounds of the hospital in October 2013, with a Hospice Unit comprising 20 single bedrooms to be constructed on the ground floor of the five-storey building and a Day Care Unit with consultation rooms, treatment rooms, therapy area and dining area planned for the first floor.
However the build, which recently received approval from Waterford City and County Council, will also include 72 single rooms on the top three floors.
Due to the limited availability of single rooms at UHW, sources say management is concerned that revenue is being lost because patients with private health insurance are not being given the opportunity to be treated as a private patient.
Hence there’s widespread speculation that a high proportion of private beds will be located on the top three floors of this new building.
The new palliative and hospice unit is being constructed by the HSE in collaboration with Waterford Hospice Movement Ltd and University Hospital Waterford.
To date, a new roadway has been constructed to relocate the access road to the Old School of Nursing and HSE/RCSI Education Centre to the east end of the campus.
This work also involved the relocation of services to the perimeter of the site and the completion of new car parks adjacent to the Laboratory.
Construction is expected to commence in mid 2016 and completed by the autumn of 2017. Following commissioning and equipping, the palliative care and hospice facility should then be operational from the first quarter of 2018.