Written Answers - Hospital Charges.

Wednesday, 2 February 2005

Dáil Eireann Debate
Vol. 596 No. 4

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  215.  Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Information on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin  Zoom on Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin   asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children  Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney   if her attention has been drawn to a practice of hospitals charging two sets of rates for inpatient stays, a base rate and a rate applicable if a patient is successful in a personal injury claim; if departmental guidelines or regulations on hospital charges permit this practice; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3184/05]

Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children (Ms Harney): Information on Mary Harney  Zoom on Mary Harney  Under the Health (Amendment) Act 1986 the Health Service Executive may impose charges on all patients for treatment arising out of injuries sustained in road traffic accidents where compensation is subsequently payable. The Act does not withdraw eligibility for public hospital services from road traffic accident victims, but allows health boards to recover the costs of all services provided to them. Following enactment of the legislation, my Department directed that charges be calculated on the basis of the hospital’s average daily cost. Following legal [1589]challenge, the Supreme Court, on 11 July 2001 in the judgment referred to by the Deputy, ruled that this costing approach is reasonable, proper and intra vires the Health (Amendment) Act 1986.

Letters were issued by my Department to the health boards outlining the judgment and directing them to charge the average daily cost in all road traffic accident cases.

While bills are generally issued in all road traffic accident cases, they are only settled where compensation is received and then forwarded to hospitals. Also, compensation may be significantly reduced in cases where contributory negligence is established. In the event of a person failing to obtain a compensation award, that person will only be liable for the normal statutory and maintenance charges, where applicable.

The administration of the charging system is a matter for the Health Service Executive and my Department has no function in this regard.

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