Hospital chaplains in west paid over €1m
THE HSE paid over €1m last year to priests and others offering pastoral services in hospitals along the west coast.
Large discrepancies in charges for hospital chaplaincy services, in terms of cost per bed, have also emerged, in figures released under the Freedom of Information Act.
Figures for the national spend on chaplaincy in hospitals were not made available but HSE West spent €2m in the past two years in its acute hospital and community care network, which stretches from Donegal to Limerick.
HSE West Forum member Brian Meaney said the figures, released yesterday, reveal a huge disparity in the cost of chaplaincy per bed.
For instance, the 103-bed HSE-funded St John's Hospital in Limerick last year paid €179,489 for pastoral care and chaplaincy services while marginally more, €195,617, was spent at the 435-bed Mid-West Regional Hospital in Limerick.
Separate figures for the 997 bed Galway University Hospital show its spend on chaplaincy services for the first 10 months of last year was €203,387.
The annual spend per bed at St John's was €1,746 in 2011 compared with €449 per bed at the Mid-West Regional Hospital and a spend of €278 per bed at the Galway University Hospital.
The figures for the 80-bed Ennis General Hospital show that the HSE spent €9,986 last year for an on-call chaplaincy service for all denominations -- an annual cost of €124 per bed.
The figures show that €70,049 was spent on chaplaincy services at the 339-bed Mayo General Hospital in 2010 with €148,017 spent at the 196-bed Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe in 2010.