AN increase in people visiting GPs prior to presenting themselves at A&E departments has resulted in a major decrease in hospital revenue.
Figures obtained by the Herald reveal that the numbers paying up to €100 for emergency treatment at Beaumont hospital has plunged by 40pc.
Last year, 3,900 people paid their emergency department bill at the hospital which yielded an income of €390,000.
However, just three years previously a total of 6,600 made the payment, adding €660,000 to the hospital's coffers.
This means that in the intervening years, the hospital has seen income from emergency department fees plunge by a significant €270,000.
In total 6,600 paid at the hospital in 2009; 4,200 in 2010; 4,400 in 2011 and 3,900 in 2012.
A hospital spokesman told the Herald that a number of factors were contributing to this: "We are seeing an increase in the volume of patients attending with doctors' notes – this means they are exempt from paying the charge.
"Also there has been slightly higher admissions into the hospital, and where this happens they are also exempt from the emergency department charge," he added.
Meanwhile, the spokesman also pointed out that those in possession of a medical card do not have to pay the fee.
Some 45,000 people attend the emergency department at the northside Dublin hospital every year.
Nationally, there has been a massive increase in the number of people who are entitled to medical cards.
The latest figures show that nearly half of the population is in receipt of medical cards, and there has been a 38pc increase in the number of cards issued over the last four years.
Also exempt from the charge are European health insurance card holders, and patients who present at the emergency department but who do not wait to be treated by a doctor.
Those who are in possession of a valid medical card are also exempt.
Meanwhile, the HSE did not supply figures as to how many patients attending the hospital failed to pay the fee that was owed by them after receiving treatment.