PRIVATE patients owe almost €166m in unpaid bills to cash-strapped acute hospitals around the country.
The outstanding amount represents more than a third of the total fees due to these hospitals from people availing of private medical care.
The 15 Dublin hospitals have been left short by €71.5m and 29 hospitals around the rest of the country are owed more than €94m.
Figures in the latest HSE performance report show that these outstanding amounts relate to the 12 months up to February 2012 and the average bill has been outstanding for more than four months.
Tallaght and Beaumont Hospitals in Dublin are owed almost half of their total income in unpaid private patient bills.
Beaumont Hospital took in €30m in payments but is still owed another €14m. Tallaght Hospital took in €35.6m but is still owed a further €15m.
Limerick Regional is in a similar situation with an income of just under €25m and outstanding bills of a further €13m.
Galway University Hospital took in €26m and is owed a further €10m and Cork University Hospital took in €36.5m and is still owed €12m. While the outstanding amounts due in some of the other hospitals are smaller, they nevertheless represent up to 50pc of the total hospital income from private patients.
Two major children's hospitals are in this position. Our Lady's in Crumlin took in €14.6m in fees but is still owed €6.8m and Temple Street children's hospital took in €7m but is still owed just under €4m.
At Connolly Hospital in Dublin an income of €5.3m compares to outstanding bills of €3.2m. Despite running at almost €166m, the figure for the 12 months to February of this year is a slight improvement on previous years.
In 2008, a total of €152m in bills was outstanding, rising to €161m at the end of 2009 and €174m at the end of 2010.
People are also paying slightly quicker. It took the debtor 136 days to get the money in December 2011 but this period had dropped by three days to 133 days in February of this year.
The amount owed by private patients is set against a backdrop of hospitals stuggling to stay within budgets this year and at the same time maintain service levels. This list shows the amount unpaid at hospitals, followed by the income from private patients between February last year and February 2012.
1. Tallaght: €15m unpaid, €35.6m income from private patients.
2. Beaumont: €14m/€30m
3. Our Lady's Crumlin:
4. St James: €5.8m/€31.8m
5. Temple Street Children's: €3.9m/ €7m
6.St Vincent's: €3.2m/€11.8m
7. Connolly Memorial:
8. Nat Maternity Holles St:
9. Coombe Women's: €3m/€11.5m
10. Rotunda: €2.5m/€12.8m
1. Limerick Regional:
2. Cork University: €12m/ €36.5m
3. Galway University:
4. Waterford Regional:
5. Our Lady of Lourdes:
6. Mercy, Cork: €5.5m/ €16.8m
7. Sligo General: €4.2m/€13.4m
8.St. Luke's, Kilkenny:
9. St Joseph's Clonmel:
10. Mayo General: €3.1m/€6.9m