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Operational plans outline concerns over voluntary hospitals

Concerns about the reporting arrangements and financial status of voluntary hospitals within Hospital Groups have been identified in operational plans for 2019, which were recently published by the HSE.

The Ireland East Hospital Group (IEHG) Operational Plan 2019 states that the high number of voluntary hospitals within the group present “unique challenges… as each entity has its own corporate governance arrangements and legal obligations”.

Out of the 11 hospitals in the IEHG, six are voluntary:  St Michael’s Hospital, Dun Laoghaire; St Vincent’s University Hospital; National Maternity Hospital; Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital; Mater Misericordiae Hospital; and Cappagh Orthopaedic Hospital.

“The current arrangement whereby the Hospital Groups have been established on an administrative basis gives rise to challenges, primarily around accountability and governance and primary legislation is required to mitigate these risks,” CEO of the IEHG Ms Mary Day stated in her foreword of the report.

The report states that the issuing of reports by the Acute Operations Division of the HSE in respect of voluntary hospitals, which exclude pension costs and associated income, is “problematic” for the group.

“Our voluntary hospitals engage with the IEHG with regard to the totality of their finances and therefore the national financial system does not produce the appropriate inclusive reports in order to allow us to rely on the HSE Financial System to manage our hospitals,” according to the report.

The report adds that given the “carrying accumulated deficits in the voluntary hospitals” and the increasing service demands, “it is expected that the management of the cash position will be challenging in 2019”.

Similar concerns were identified in the operational plans for the HSE South/South West Hospital Group, Dublin Midlands Group, and RCSI Hospitals Group.

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