The private patients unit at the hospital is currently being used to catch up on a backlog in elective surgery.

Health Minister Lawrie Hooper says the Covid-19 pandemic caused disruption to the point it impacted surgeries going ahead.

He was asked in the House of Keys by Arbory, Castletown and Malew MHK Jason Moorhouse this week when the private patient wing at Noble’s Hospital will reopen and if he would make a statement about future private medical provision.

Mr Hooper said: ‘The private patients unit is currently being deployed to support the restoration and recovery programme.

‘This is focused on reducing the current backlog in elective surgery that resulted from the impact of the Covid-19 on this work at Noble’s Hospital during 2020 and 2021.

‘Once the restoration and recovery programme ends the private patients unit will require a deep clean process prior to opening to patients.

‘Members are aware that the private patients unit is still being used for the NHS elective recovery work.’

The minister explained that as the restoration and recovery programme continues and the demand for surgeries reduces, it ‘may be possible’ for Manx Care to begin some private working partnerships with healthcare insurers.

He said this could be possible ‘going into 2024’.

‘The delivery of NHS services is our priority and it’s considered at this time that if the private patients unit can be utilised to aid in significantly reducing NHS waiting lists,’ Mr Hooper added.

‘This is the best use it can be put to at present.

‘For people who have private healthcare provisions, Manx Care currently provide diagnostic out-patient services provided by radiology, endoscopy, dermatology and audiology.’

As the year progresses, Manx Care is looking to ‘slowly expand’ private healthcare services.

This would mean that it would include procedures from both Noble’s Hospital and Ramsey Cottage Hospital.