23rd Jul 2020

The Emergency Department (ED) at Blackrock Clinic celebrates 10 years today. Over that period 88,000 patients have been through the department, with a quarter of patients (22,000) being admitted to the high-tech, acute hospital as a result of their visit to the ED.

On average, each patient spends 2.78 hours in the ED and the average time to triage is 3.7 minutes.  The majority of cases are treated quickly with 97% given a final decision on discharge or hospital admission within 6 hours of coming to the ED. 

Over the last decade, the Emergency Department has grown significantly.  In 2014 – within four years of opening the ED – Blackrock Clinic opened a new larger ED due to demand.  This ED has double the beds in a space which is triple the size.  The ED was also the first in Ireland to use solid-wall, individual patient cubicles, enhancing patient privacy – particularly auditory privacy.  The solid-wall cubicles also offer significant distancing and infection control benefits, which is hugely useful during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the ED at Blackrock Clinic is the only private Emergency Department in Dublin to be open on Sundays and Bank Holidays, and overall is open longer hours than any other private ED in Dublin – 8am-6pm, Monday to Friday, and 10am-5pm on Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday weekends.

The Medicall Ambulance service in conjunction with  Blackrock Clinic operates a private ambulance which allows patients to order transport by private ambulance to the hospital’s ED.  Within the M50, this service costs €180 and may or may not be covered by health insurance, depending on a patient’s policy.

“We’ve seen an increasing demand for private emergency services through our ED and know that patients appreciate the swift triage times and access to the hospital should they need admission,” said James O’Donoghue, Chief Executive, Blackrock Clinic. 

“Approximately 30,000 patients use private Emergency Departments in Dublin every year and this equates to the patient levels of an A&E in a large public hospital.  As a result, the private sector complements Dublin’s emergency medicine services and relieves some pressure from the system”. 

About health insurance cover for the ED:

  • Generally medical insurance does not cover the private ED attendance fee of €175 however[1] most recently some of the high end plans cover some, or all, of a patient’s treatment in the ED, depending on the patient’s  policy .
  • The initial fee of €175 covers an initial assessment with the Emergency Consultant.
  • The cost for additional tests is capped at €595 per patient[2] per visit (this includes the €175 attendance fee).  Again, some of these tests may be covered by a patient’s medical insurance.
  • Some patients may need limited tests such as an ultrasound at €185 or an x-ray which costs €110.
  • Other patients may need a wide range of more expensive tests and these may include an MRI scan which costs €280 or a CT scan which costs €280.   Lab tests cost €40 each (capped at €400).

The approach varies depending on each condition.  The costs of various tests are displayed at reception in the ED, and are also on the hospital’s website:

[1] Patients with VHI Premium Care who have a GP referral for their attendance are fully covered for three ED visits per annum (without a GP referral, an excess of €75 applies on each of these three visits).

[2] The maximum cost to a patient will be €595 in any one visit (although exclusions apply as follows: €180 for a referral to a specialist consultant, €650 for a Cardiac MRI scan and €495 for a Cardiac CT scan).