Tallaght deficit 'will not affect patients'
The chief executive of Tallaght Hospital has said patients will not be affected by the hospital’s financial difficulties.
Last night it emerged the Dublin hospital secured a bank overdraft facility of over €12 million from AIB to help its cash flow. The hospital was over-budget by €10 million in July.
However, Eilish Hardiman said the hospital was “making good progress” in relation to its deficit.
“The hospital to date in 2012 has made a 6 per cent saving despite there being a 9 per cent reduction in its allocation this year compared to last year, and we’re doing all that in a background whereby we’re treating 5 per cent more patients this year,” she told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
The overdraft, she said, was a normal facility open to the voluntary hospitals based on a percentage of their allocation. It is a “good financial and prudent” measure to put that facility in place to enable the hospital to address its cash requirements at year end.
The hospital receives prospective funding for orthopaedic surgery, meaning the hospital receives the funding after the procedures take place.
“We have to pay the salaries of the staff who undertake that surgery.” Ms Hardiman said the overdraft relieves some of this financial pressure.
Ms Hardiman said the hospital has worked very closely with the HSE since the beginning of the year to address its deficit.
Through measures, which include reducing the length of stay for patients, and moving former acute care patients onto continuing care settings, “we are able to affect some financial savings,” she said.
The chief executive said the acute medical assessment unit opened in July and there have already been 800 fewer patients admitted to the hospital, which is also working on a financial stability plan to identify further savings.
These cost-saving measures would tackle the hospital’s deficit without affecting overall patient care, she added.
In the Dáil today, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin criticised HSE officials for failing to tell the Public Accounts committee that Tallaght hospital had to apply for a €12 million overdraft with a letter of comfort from the HSE.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny said the Tallaght hospital financial director had set out very clearly of what it had done, however. He said the financial director had also clarified that “nobody need be in any worries about having the provision of the best level of hospital attention given to them”.