HSE €500k out of pocket as forms are left unsigned

The chair of the HSE West Forum has described as “absolutely outrageous” the failure of one consultant to sign forms that would release €500,000 to the cash-strapped HSE.

Cllr Padraig Conneely (FG) was responding to an admission by the HSE’s assistant national director for finance, Liam Minihan, that a consultant at Galway University Hospitals had yet to sign forms for private insurers that would release €496,000 to the HSE. Yesterday, the HSE confirmed €15.1m has been outstanding from hospitals in the West for more than a year due to consultants’ failure to sign forms for insurers.

Mr Conneely called for the unnamed consultant to be denied private beds at the Galway University Hospitals, which comprise of University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park Hospital, until the matter is resolved.

Galway University Hospitals were €11.9m, or 8%, over-budget at the end of July. In a report, the chief executive of the Galway Roscommon Hospital Group, Bill Maher, said that at the end of August the amount outstanding from insurance companies at the group of hospitals was €15.5m.

He said: “That is €7.7m sent and €7.8m not sent to the insurance companies. There are a number of reasons why claims would not be sent; the principal one is that the consultant signature is awaited. This accounts for €5.8m of unsent claims.”

Mr Conneely said: “This leaves the hospital with €5.8m in unsigned forms and consultants cannot just walk away from it just when the hospital needs the money.”

The HSE said that as part of new work practice reforms to be agreed with consultants, the consultant will complete and sign off on private insurance forms within 14 days of receiving the documentation, as well as co-operating with a new online system of speeding up payments.

The Irish Hospital Consultants’ Association did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

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