The HSE West is owed more than €10 million because a number of hospital consultants have failed to sign off private health insurance claims promptly. Some €5.8m of this is outstanding to University Hospital Galway and Merlin Park.
Hitting out at the “well paid consultants that were not co-operating” Cllr Padraig Conneely, the chairperson of the health authority’s regional health forum, said this was a “disgrace”.
He has been vocal on the matter on a number of occasions previously calling for the offenders to be “named and shamed”.
Bill Maher, the chief executive of the West /North West Hospital Group, told a meeting of the forum at Merlin Park Hospital earlier this week, that the original outstanding debt had been reduced by €2m to €10.6m since the last forum meeting.
However, city mayor Cllr Conneely insisted it was still unacceptable that the cash strapped local health service was missing out on this vital income due to tardy consultants.
“Do they want to be all powerful?” he demanded. “I thought these days were gone. They shouldn’t be dictating.”
He said he had been raising the issue year in, year out and it was disappointing that the situation was continuing.
Mr Maher emphasised that the debt had been reduced by €2m and stated it was “disengenous”and “untrue” to say the issue was not being addressed.
He added that the fact that Cllr Conneely was making these statements all the time was not helpful. The outstanding sum had come down, he stressed.
The city Fine Gael councillor remarked it was still unacceptable and insisted he would continue to criticise the consultants responsible.
He told Mr Maher he would congratulate him when the outstanding debt comes down to zero but the CEO said it would never come down to that.
Mr Maher continued by saying that he had been told anecdotally that the private hospitals in Galway experience similar difficulties regarding the signing off of health insurance claims.