A new report has found that the final cost of removing private healthcare from public hospitals would cost around €650m a year.

The report says it would take about ten years to implement.

The report of the Independent Review Group was commissioned by Minister for Health Simon Harris after the 2017 all-party Sláintecare Report on health reforms recommended the change, on a phased basis, as part of a package of measures to make the public health system more equitable.

The report was produced by an independent review group chaired by Dr Donal de Buitléir.

It recommended that legislation be introduced to ensure that public hospitals be used exclusively for public patients.

It would mean public hospitals no longer receiving private income from health insurers of about €500m a year.

Dr De Buitléir said Ireland was unusual in that those with private health insurance or who can pay out of pocket are able to access services in public hospitals quicker than those who do not have private health insurance or who cannot afford to pay. He said this was not fair.

The report says that all new consultant appointments would be made on the basis that they would only do public work in public hospitals.

It has also said that pay for new entrant consultants appointed since 2012 be restored to the rate that applied before October 2012 to deal with the recruitment problems.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association has said the delivery of care to patients will deteriorate under proposals to separate private care from public hospitals.

It said that income generated by private healthcare in public hospitals currently is an important source of funding for new treatments and innovation.

The association said that Ireland's population was not large enough to support both a public hospital system and a totally separate, distinct private service across a full suite of complex services that are currently concentrated in public hospitals.

It has also questioned the capacity of the Government and the Department of Health to find the proposals which the IHCA say could cost €800m a year.