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Speaking to the Medical Independent(MI), a patient said that after attending an outpatient rheumatology clinic in St James’s for biologic infusion treatments for over six years, the hospital starting charging her last year as a day case patient. She claimed this followed the demolition of a rheumatology outpatient clinic building, to make room for the new National Children’s Hospital, and the move of the service to another part of the hospital.
Dozens of other rheumatology patients are now being charged as day case patients by the hospital for biologic infusions, she claimed, despite being long-time outpatients and their treatment remaining the same. They also report being asked for private health insurance details, despite being treated as public patients, and for payment even though they have long held medical cards.
In response to queries from MI about the issue, a spokesperson for the hospital eventually replied: “St James’s Hospital consolidated these services into a new Ambulatory Care Unit with designated day beds. The charges refer to a correction in the classification of the procedures. This correction is unrelated to the building of the Children’s Hospital. “
The hospital refused to answer how many patients were impacted by the changes and what income it was making from them, merely replying: “St James’s Hospital applied the standard government charge for these services and Rheumatology was primarily affected.”
This charge is currently €80 per day up to a maximum of €800 in any 12-month period.