Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar

Dáil Éireann díospóireacht -
Thursday, 5 Jun 1980

Vol. 321 No. 11

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Hospital Fees.


asked the Minister for Health if it is in order for a hospital (details supplied) operating under the Health Acts to set aside a section so that semi-private and private patients may be charged in excess of the fees laid down and if he will make a statement on the matter.

I have noted the circumstances of the case sent to me by the Deputy. A patient in private or semi-private accommodation in a public hospital, as distinct from a separate private hospital or home, is entitled to maintenance at a charge broadly related to the difference between the costs of public and private care. Currently the recommended charges range from £9 to £12 a day for private accommodation and £7.20 to £9 a day for semi-private accommodation. I would expect that public voluntary hospitals would charge accordingly for such maintenance.

Will the Minister state whether or not Deputy Tully's question can be answered? Deputy Tully's question asked whether it is in order for a hospital to charge in excess of the laid down guidelines. The Minister has not said whether it is or not.

The Deputy asked for a statement and I have pointed out what the fees are and have said that I would expect the public voluntary hospitals to charge accordingly for such maintenance. These charges are not statutory charges and the authorities in the hospital in question have been told that if these charges were reduced any loss in income would be compensated for by a corresponding increase in the allocation to the hospital. The position has been made clear to the hospital in question. It is proposed to send a copy of a reply to the question to the hospital to raise again with them the question of standardising the charges with particular reference to the implications of the creation of what is in effect a private hospital area within a public hospital.

What remedy lies in the Minister's hands if a hospital continues to charge in excess of the guidelines?

That question was not asked in the first instance but I have pointed out that these are not statutory charges. The matter has been taken up with the hospital and further to Deputy Tully's question I intend to pursue the matter further with them.

Question No. 20. We have a lot of questions, Deputy.

Is it not the situation that the hospital is grant-aided from public funds?

It is, of course.

Can the Minister then say whether any remedy is open to him if a hospital continues to charge in excess of the generally accepted guidelines?

If the Deputy puts a question down I will deal with it but when the matter is first brought to the Minister's attention the normal thing for the Minister to do is to point out the variations to the hospital in question and to say that he would expect that public voluntary hospitals would charge accordingly for such maintenance.