Beaumont hiring debt collectors to chase patient bills
Beaumont Hospital is hiring debt collectors to pursue millions of euro in treatment fees due from road traffic accident patients.
Hospitals treating these patients, who are compensated by insurance companies, are entitled to recover the cost of treatment.
The cash-strapped north Dublin hospital is now tendering for a debt collection service in a bid to pursue the money over the next four years.
The most recent annual report from Beaumont shows it is due around €17m in charges from patients, although it is unclear how much of this relates to road traffic fees.
A spokeswoman for the hospital yesterday declined to comment on the background to the tender or elaborate on how much is due.
However, the tender states that debt management and recovery services for road traffic accidents include correspondence with a combination of stakeholders, including the patient, next of kin, the patient's solicitor , the Injuries Board and other relevant parties.
When the patient is discharged, an invoice is usually sent to them.
The debt collector will have to improve and increase the recovery of the cost of treatment, the tender said.
Under Department of Health guidelines, hospital charges apply unless an exemption is applied to the individual.
The charge for A&E for a road traffic patient who is pursuing compensation is €446, compared to the normal €100.
The cost of inpatient care is €1,442 a night, plus an €80 statutory charge for an overnight bed.
If the patient is in a private room, the cost is €1,000 a night, plus an additional €442 .
An outpatient charge for a road traffic accident patient is €223, an MRI scan is €626 and a physiotherapy charge is €111.
Beaumont Hospital treats a higher than normal number of road traffic accident patients because of its specialities, which include neurosurgery.
The hospital, which was in recent years one of the worst for trolley gridlock, has managed to bring overcrowding under better control.
On a number of occasions last winter, there was no patient on a trolley in the morning.
However, it continues to have long waiting lists in various areas because it has a catchment area with a high volume of older people, who are more likely to need to be admitted to hospital.
The hospital is part of the Royal College of Surgeons Hospital Group. The latest move is a bid to improve its funding income.