‘Name and shame’ tardy consultants, urges health forum chairperson

The chairperson of the HSE West’s regional health forum is demanding that consultants at Galway University Hospitals [UHG and Merlin Park] who fail to sign off private health insurance claims promptly are “named and shamed”.

Cllr Padraig Conneely insists their delay is costing the city’s public hospitals millions of euro. A total of €14 million is outstanding to both facilities from private health insurance companies, a meeting of the HSE West’s regional health forum was told on Tuesday.

Action must be stepped up immediately to claw back this money for the cash-starved hospitals which have an overspend of €11.7m going into 2012, according to the former Mayor and Fine Gael city councillor.

“I was told at the meeting by Dr David O’Keeffe [the clinical director of the Galway/Roscommon Hospital Group] that claims valued at €5.4m due to UHG and Merlin Park Hospitals are awaiting the consultants’ signatures,” he told this newspaper.

“These claims are ready, they are lying on a desk. Until the consultants sign off on them they cannot be submitted to the private health insurance companies for payment.”

Cllr Conneely has been publicly critical of the consultants involved saying this money would ease the financial problems at Galway University Hospitals.

Both Dr O’Keeffe and Liam Minihan, the HSE’s assistant national director of finance, have supported Cllr Conneely’s stance on the need for consultants to complete the claim forms more quickly, he says.

“The next step would be to name and shame the non-compliant consultants who are paid salaries of up to €200,000 per year to treat public patients while at the same time having 20 per cent of public beds for their private practices at UHG and Merlin Park,” says Cllr Conneely.

He responded angrily to a letter published in the local media from the chairperson of the Medical Board of GUH Professor Kieran Daly recently in which the consultant cardiologist expressed concern about the financial difficulties besetting the city hospitals.

In his response published in this newspaper Cllr Conneely suggested that the professor should use his position to get the non compliant consultants to complete their claim forms.

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