asked the Minister for Health if he is aware that some health boards are refusing to pay hospital bills for eligible persons if the bills are incurred outside the health board region, even though (a) the hospital concerned was the only one with a bed available and (b) the charge is no greater than that for similar treatment within the region.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Payment of Hospital Bills.
The Deputy should appreciate that an issue such as this involving the detailed administration of the health services is one that should be taken up with the health board concerned. If, having done so, he is satisfied that the health board have acted contrary to the statutes or in an arbitrary or unreasonable way, he might bring the specific case to my notice and I will pursue it.
I thank the Minister for his advice but I am sure he will appreciate that the week before last I had occasion to bring two cases of another nature to his attention with the result that the matter was remedied immediately. Would the Minister agree that if what I asked in the question is being done it is contrary to at least the spirit of the Health Act and would he see to it that it is not continued? If he has the same effect in this case as he had in the previous case I will be very grateful to him.
I do not recall the actual particulars of the patient the Deputy has in mind, but, as he knows, there is a sub-committee of the North-Eastern Health Board to report on what are now called the "deeming" arrangements, in other words, to revise the cases of the limited eligibility group as to whether their costs can be paid in full under the contributions scheme.
Who set up the sub-committee?
The North-Eastern Health Board.
No. I am a member of that board and I am not aware of it.
There is a committee which have been formed in order to consider, within the ambit of the total health board, what classes of patients can be sent to voluntary hospitals outside the health board's immediate control on the basis that they do not have to pay the extra sum of ten pence per day that they previously were paying because they were not hospitals deemed to receive patients requiring certain treatment. If the Deputy will inquire with the health board he will find that this negotiation is in process.
Fifty pence per day. Could the Minister tell me by whom was the sub-committee set up?
The North-Eastern Health Board set up the committee.
But I am a member of the board and I am not aware of it.
I am sorry the Deputy is not aware of it. Perhaps there has been insufficient communication with him.
Question No. 4.
Were the sub-committee set up by a group of officials or was it a function of the board themselves?
It is a function of the board themselves.
The board are not aware of it, I can assure the Minister.
The Deputy can inquire into it.
The Minister may be sure I will. There will be a meeting next Monday.