Saturday 19 August 2017

It's dearer than the Ritz, your €889-a-day public hospital bed

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

THE average cost of a bed in a public hospital is now €889 a day -- more expensive than a room in some of the top hotels in the world.

A night at the Ritz in Paris will set you back €870, while an executive suite at Trump Tower Hotel in New York will place you in the lap of luxury for €651.

And although patients in one of Ireland's public hospitals will not be treated to chocolates on their pillows at night or be able to sink into Egyptian cotton sheets, they are "cosseted" by the presence of doctors, nurses and hi-tech medical machinery instead.

The taxpayer picks up most of the bill for the nightly cost of a public hospital bed, and if the patient does not have a medical card, he or she pays no more than €75 a day.

Overheads

The maximum amount a public patient will pay for a hospital stay in a year is €750 but it is free for medical card holders.

A spokesman for the Health Service Executive (HSE) said the average of €889 was based on figures from 39 hospitals that submitted costings.

"The average cost quoted relates to the in-patient stay only and excludes outpatient, emergency department and day-case costs.

"It also excludes depreciation and capital costs," he explained.

"The average cost is a full cost and includes all pay, non-pay and overhead costs covering all services that could be used by an in-patient.

"It would thus include medical pay, nursing pay, blood, medicines, medical and surgical supplies, theatre, intensive care units, radiology, laboratories and other areas and other support staff.

"The costing process does not provide a pay or non-pay breakdown of the €889.

"However, based on the total annual financial statement (AFS) costs going into the costing process, pay would account for approximately 70pc of the total,'' the spokesman added.

The HSE does get some return for the use of a public bed by a patient who has private health insurance.

The insurance company can be levied between €655 to €910 for a bed depending on whether it is for day care, private or semi-private in one of the major teaching hospitals.

The cost for health insurance companies is lower for a bed in a county or voluntary non-teaching hospital. It varies from €434 to €607.

Overcrowding

The high cost of a public bed shows how the closure of a bed can lead to considerable cost saving for a hospital.

Hundreds of hospital beds are set to be closed this year, despite evidence of ongoing overcrowding in some of the major hospitals.

There are also hundreds of patients who should be discharged because they no longer need acute care. But they are occupying beds when they could be transferred elsewhere if the facilities were available.

Beaumont Hospital in Dublin has given 23 patients until Friday week to fill out a form for transfer to a nursing home, failing which they will each be charged €1,365 a week.

The patients had been assessed as needing nursing home care but refused to complete the form, which would see them financially assessed to determine what level of contribution, if any, they make to their care.

Irish Independent

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