HSE docks nearly €18m from 20 hospitals for efficiency failures
TWENTY hospitals have been fined nearly €18m for failing an efficiency test, new figures revealed yesterday.
Tallaght Hospital in Dublin is the worst hit, with €2.5m taken from its budget this year, while Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda is being docked €2.2m.
The penalty will leave hospitals -- already struggling with a cut in funding this year -- having to curtail some services. The €17.8m funding is being redistributed among 19 other hospitals as a reward for a good performance in key areas of efficiency last year.
The biggest winner is Mullingar Hospital which is receiving €2.1m, followed by University College Hospital Galway with €1.9m.
The fines are part of a 'penalty and reward' system operated by the Health Service Executive (HSE) to incentivise hospitals to become more efficient.
The performance-related system -- introduced in 1993 -- aims to compare like with like -- measuring the operation of a hospital against its peers.
Hospitals are compared under headings, such as how long it takes to treat patients with the same conditions.
For example, the cost and time involved in treating a 75-year-old woman in need of a hip operation can be compared, looking at criteria such value for money and length of stay .
The HSE said 39 hospitals, funded to the tune of €5bn ,voluntarily entered the performance tests and none of the money is taken out of the system.
Hospitals heavily fined include Limerick Regional (€1.8m) and the Mater Hospital in Dublin (€1.1m) both of which have serious problems with overcrowding in emergency departments.
Saint James's Hospital in Dublin is better off by €1.5m and the South Infirmary in Cork has received over €1m. Hospitals have claimed that staffing difficulties can bring down their record. And the test only takes into account in-patient and day-case activity, but excludes accident and emergency performance.