The British government has “carelessly” overpaid hundreds of millions of pounds to the Health Services Executive, it was claimed today.
The cash has been handed over as part of a long-standing arrangement to fund treatment for around 50,000 pensioners who worked in the UK.
But the process is so “shambolic” that up to €200m a year too much has been flowing out of NHS coffers, according to the Tories.
The issue emerged as Health Minister Mary Harney gave evidence to the Dáil in December. She said the UK Government “reckoned they had paid us €150m more than they should have” in 2007, and wanted to claw back the cash.
Ms Harney predicted that the payment level – which is based on national insurance contributions made by Irish citizens – would go down to €250m annually in future.
Britain's Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said he suspected the overpayments could be up to €750m over the past five years, from a total bill of €2bn.
He demanded a parliamentary inquiry, insisting ministers were trying to “hide” the problem. Britain's Department of Health has insisted the governments are in talks over the issue.