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HSE fails to submit €74 million worth of consultant claims

An Oireachtas report found that consultants were not signing off on claims and recommended that the HSE look at naming those holding up the collection of income.

Image: Doctor writing image via Shutterstock

THE HSE HAS failed to collect some €74 million in medical consultant fees from private health insurers according to a report published by the Committee of Public Accounts today.

The report, which deals with a number of issues discussed during its three meetings with the HSE in 2012, found that consultants were not signing off on claims and so they had not been submitted for collection.

It also found that between €5 million and €8 million was outstanding for over twelve months.

Commenting today, chairman of the committee John McGuinness said: “That is no way to run a health service and while steps were taken through the LRC to ensure that consultants signed off on claims within 14 days, we will follow up with the HSE to ensure that it collects the money it is owed promptly.”

The report recommended that the HSE “examine the scope it has to publish the names of those hospital consultants who are holding up the collection of income due to the HSE from private insurers”.

Over €2.6 million in allowances was paid out by the HSE to 31 hospital consultants who retired in 2011 in lieu of historic rest days that had been accumulated during their careers. A payment of over €175,000 each was made to eight of these consultants.

The report said that this practice of paying allowances to retiring hospital consultants in lieu of untaken rest days should be reviewed.

“A provision should be introduced whereby consultants can carry forward untaken rest days within a three year cycle, similar to the civil service provision relating to annual leave,” it said.

It also found that the level of pay of hospital consultants in Ireland is “substantially more than that paid to their counterparts in some other jurisdictions”.

As part of the review of remuneration of higher paid public servants, the committee recommended that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform conduct a benchmarking exercise in respect of the pay of consultants.

Read: Government urged to use VHI shareholding to negotiate consultant fee reduction>
Read: Doctors’ pay must be cut in order to limit working times: Reilly>

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