OVER €70m that is owed to cash-starved public hospitals is being held up by consultant doctors who have failed to sign off on private health insurance claim forms.
The money is owed to acute hospitals by health insurance companies for treatment received by private patients in public healthcare facilities.
Under current rules, private health insurers will not reimburse public hospitals for the treatment and accommodation of patients until consultants sign off on the overall claim. The most recent figures show that claims with a value of €70,664,939 are awaiting action by hospital consultants.
Acute hospitals are facing drastic service cuts as they struggle with a combined budget deficit of €63m for the first three months of 2014.
Galway University Hospitals (GUH) has the highest value of claims pending sign-off by consultants at €7,890,244, followed by University Hospital Limerick (UHL) at €6,286,498.