THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is to ask taxpayers for a bailout of nearly €200m today even though hospitals have failed to collect €146m it is due from health insurers for treating private patients.
The Cabinet will have to give another end-of-year financial rescue to the HSE to make up its shortfall.
However, the HSE admitted yesterday that hospitals were due €146m in unpaid bills for treating private patients.
The figure, which relates to the end of October, is €35m more than it was owed this time last year when cash-strapped hospitals were told to stop delaying the collection of the money from private insurers.
A spokeswoman said the rate of collection had improved and the HSE had taken steps to speed it up.
These steps include:
* Dedicated management -- a focused team has been established to improve the submission of claims. This group has set improvement metrics to be reviewed on a weekly basis with appropriate actions being assigned.
* Implementation of electronic claiming system --the submission of claims had been a manual paper-based process. Over the last 18 months, the HSE has introduced an electronic claims system in 20 of its largest hospitals, representing 72pc of overall national claims. This improved system will be rolled out to all acute hospitals in 2014.
* Co-operation of hospital consultants -- hospital management and consultants are working closely together to improve the process for completion of forms in hospitals.
"These three items are the key reasons for the improvement of €10m (10.4pc) in the value of claims to be submitted," the spokeswoman said.
The HSE is blaming a number of factors for the shortfall, including the failure to secure savings of €150m from the Haddington Road agreement, as well as the delay in bringing in legislation to charge health insurers for private patients placed in public hospital beds.