Hospitals face fines of €5.8m for failing to meet targets to reduce waiting lists

Some 11,000 outpatients were on a waiting list at the end of August

Hospitals that failed to meet targets set by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to reduce waiting lists face fines totalling €5.8 million. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Hospitals that failed to meet targets set by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar to reduce waiting lists face fines totalling €5.8 million. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

Fines totalling €5.8 million have been levied on hospitals that failed to meet targets set by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar for reducing waiting lists.

The level of fines is based on waiting list figures for August, which show that thousands of patients are waiting longer than the Minister’s target maximum of 18 months.

Hospitals may be partially or fully exempted from the fines if they have a known deficit in capacity which prevents them meeting the target.

The Department of Health says €5.8 million of applicable fines has been identified, based on figures supplied by the National Treatment Purchase Fund for August.

The department says that the fines are designed to incentivise performance rather than meet the costs of treatments.

The HSE will ensure long-waiting patients are prioritised for treatment.

“Hospitals are being supported by the HSE, through additional funding to support outsourcing and additional insourced capacity, to focus on reducing long-waiters and achieve a 15-month maximum by year end,” it said.

The department says the fines will be levied on a monthly basis and will increase or decrease depending on the level of breach of the 18-month target.

Elimination by a hospital of the breach will result in “cessation” of the fine but additional breaches will be subject to an additional fine.

More than 11,000 outpatients and more than 1,000 daycases or inpatients were on the waiting list at the end of August and therefore in breach of the Minister’s target.

The department referred queries about the fines levied on individual hospitals to the HSE, which said it was unable to provide this information out of hours.