Hospitals told: cut lists if you want to keep funding
Hospitals that fail to meet ambitious new targets for cutting waiting times will have their funding cut by the Government.
They have until the end of year to cut waiting times to a maximum of 15 months - or suffer the financial consequences.
Any hospital that fails to slash waiting lists will have a portion of its funding cut. Money will then be diverted to those hospitals that perform the best.
Health Minister Leo Varadkar is hoping to incentivise hospitals by providing an extra €25m to cut waiting times.
Officials in the HSE and the Department of Health thrashed out the carrot-and-stick approach in recent days.
"The HSE will institute a system of financial penalties for hospitals which don't keep to the maximum permissible waiting times.
"Failure to maintain waiting lists (below the target level) will result in them facing financial penalties," one source told the Irish Independent.
It is understood that most of this money will go back into public and voluntary hospitals in order to minimise outsourcing to private hospitals.
About 20,000 patients have recently been offered treatment in private hospitals because of lengthy delays in the public health system.
A wide range of non-urgent procedures is covered by the new waiting time targets, including both knee and hip replacements.