Waiting list fines totalling €6.5 million have been levied on acute hospitals for failing to reduce patient waiting lists, the Medical Independent (MI) can reveal.
Beaumont Hospital, Dublin, accumulated the highest penalty for a single hospital, racking up fines of over €1.3 million due to patients waiting longer than the 18-month maximum target set by Government for inpatient and day case treatment.
The fines related to the period August-December 2015, according to data released through Freedom of Information legislation.
No fines were incurred by hospitals in 2016, as the HSE had met the target of no more than 1,800 patients waiting greater than 18 months. At the end of February 2017, however, National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF) data showed that almost 4,000 patients were awaiting an inpatient or day case procedure for more than 18 months.
The data for 2015 shows that fines for the RCSI Hospitals Group totalled €1.475 million for the period, with Beaumont Hospital making up the bulk of this figure. Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, accrued fines of €77,000.
The Saolta University Health Care Group recorded the highest fines of any Hospital Group, with €1.9 million levied.
More than €1.1 million in fines were placed on Galway University Hospitals, while Letterkenny University Hospital had fines totalling €305,000.
The Dublin Midlands Hospital Group amassed penalties of over €1 million, with Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, and St James’s Hospital, Dublin, fined €508,000 and €258,000, respectively.
Fines on the South/South West Hospital Group came to over €1 million, while the Ireland East Hospital Group had charges of €449,000.
University of Limerick Hospital Group accumulated fines of €308,000, while €296,000 in fees were levied on the Children’s Hospital Group.
By the end of 2016, the HSE said it had reduced the number of patients waiting for an inpatient and day case procedure by 50 per cent, with over 11,500 patients waiting more than 18 months taken off the waiting list.
The HSE said it is working to reduce waiting times for patients requiring treatment for scoliosis and to ensure patients have their procedure within four months.