Final Dail question lifts the lid on HSE inefficiency
THE Health Service Executive (HSE) is still using eight different systems to pay its bills -- five years after it was set up to replace the old health boards, it emerged yesterday.
The information was uncovered in the form of a parliamentary reply, to departed Fine Gael TD George Lee, which revealed each former health board area uses its legacy systems to process invoices.
HSE financial director Liam Woods told Mr Lee the organisation processes over two million invoices annually.
"The former health boards in the south, south-east, west and mid-west operate on versions of the Solarsoft Aran," he said. "The north-west operates on the Smartstream v7.0.02 and SAP ERP system used by the former eastern region, north- east and midlands".
Mr Woods said the HSE has the "strongest desire" to merge these systems into one national solution. He said the HSE is working towards merging the eight separate finance and procurement systems into one, within the old health board system, which would integrate the accounts payable process across the HSE, Mr Woods added.
He said a detailed business case for a national financial and procurement system, which includes accounts payable, has been developed and submitted to the Departments of Health and Finance.
"The HSE sees a single financial and procurement system as a strong driver of value in the health system and also enabling greater autonomy locally within a control framework," Mr Woods added.
The query was one of a number of questions submitted by Mr Lee about the health service.
The former Fine Gael TD asked Health Minister Mary Harney to review her decision to withdraw funding for certain fertility drugs after three cycles of treatment for IVF patients.
He pointed out the cost of this treatment is approximately €6,000 and the withdrawing of this funding will mean a further €4,000 to the cost for couples who may already be struggling financially.
In reply, assistant national director Pat O'Dowd told Mr Lee the HSE transferred a defined list of fertility medicines to the High Tech Scheme in March 2009. "This put in place improved governance arrangements for monitoring usage and prescribing patterns as patients must be authorised by the HSE under the scheme."