Mater hospital faces deficit of up to €19m as doctor overtime targeted

Tue, Nov 6, 2012, 00:00

The Mater hospital in Dublin is understood to be facing a financial deficit which, in the “worst-case scenario”, could reach €19 million this year.

The hospital has introduced a number of cost-saving measures and is in talks with the Health Service Executive (HSE) about reimbursements which, if obtained, could see the overrun reduced to €8 million or €9 million, according to informed sources.

A confidential briefing note given to consultants in recent weeks said the Mater was facing a “serious deficit” for 2012. It said about half of the deficit “pertains to items which should be addressed through HSE reimbursements”.

It is understood that the largest element of the “reimbursements” referred to in the note relate to reductions made to the hospital’s budget earlier this year on the basis that the Government would introduce legislation to allow it charge for all private patients treated in public beds. This legislation was not put in place.

The note pointed out that the hospital’s annual allocation from the HSE had been cut by nearly €50 million over the past four years – down from about €250 million to €197 million.

Sources said that at the same time the number of patients increased by about 10 per cent.

The note said that as part of the cuts to be introduced, unrostered overtime for nonconsultant doctors would be restricted to one hour per day or five hours per week.

The note said it was agreed that such cutbacks in unrostered overtime would have an implication for service.

“It was agreed that the first area of cutbacks should be the number of patients attending outpatient clinics,” it said.

It also said a reduction in drug spending was required.