Cash-strapped Galway University Hospitals is owed more than €7.8 million by private health insurers because consultants won’t sign off on paperwork.
The Galway City Tribune can reveal that Merlin Park Hospital and University Hospital Galway (UHG) are owed a total of €7.890 million by private health insurers.
Nationally, according to new Health Service Executive (HSE) figures, more than €70 million is owing to all hospitals across the country at a time when the health service is facing a budget deficit of €63 million.
GUH, which includes the two city public hospitals, has the highest level of health insurance claims in the country that are awaiting payment as of March 31 of this year.
The next ‘worst’ offenders in terms of insurance claims owing to hospitals is University Hospital Limerick (€6.3 million) and St James’ Hospital (€5.7 million).
The figures show that almost €1m is owing to Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe (€981,843), while Mayo General Hospital is owed almost €1.4 million and Roscommon General Hospital is owed €71,908.
Chairperson of the West Regional Health Forum, City Councillor Pádraig Conneely (Fine Gael), slammed consultants for being slow to sign off on the necessary paperwork that would allow insurance companies to ‘cough up’.
Councillor Conneely, who has consistently highlighted this issue, said it was scandalous that highly-paid doctors at Galway’s two public hospitals continue to ‘drag their heels’ on paperwork.
Minister for Health, Dr James Reilly said: “The matter of the amounts owed by private insurance companies is monitored on an ongoing basis and is the subject of ongoing discussions between the HSE and the private insurers.
“In recent years the HSE has introduced a number of initiatives to improve the claims collection process and facilitate faster submission of claims to accelerate income collection within the public hospital system. In particular the HSE has tasked hospitals with bringing down the value of claims awaiting consultant action and targeting the highest value claims.
“The HSE has agreed proposals with the two consultant representative bodies committing consultants to expeditious processing and signing of claims for submission to the private insurers,” said Minister Reilly.
He said that the speed of HSE claims submissions has “improved” and that a backlog in claims relating to 2012 and 2013, which amounted to about €28 million has also been cleared.
In addition, he said: “A national electronic claims management handling system over 77% of value of claims was live in 24 hospitals in December 2013. A further 23 hospitals will go live this year. National income reporting was refined and is being further developed to include hospital group reporting.”
Minister Reilly said the introduction of electronic claims management system would “streamline” the claims collection process and will ensure that standardised work practices are implemented across all hospitals.
The total amount owed to all hospitals in the country as of March 31, 2014 was €70.1 million; while at the same time the HSE nationally is reporting a €63 million hole in its annual budget, and hospitals, including in Galway, are facing further cutbacks.
Street fight thugs from viral video outside Garda HQ avoid jail
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Two men and a woman who were involved in a ‘staged’ fistfight outside the new Garda HQ in Renmore were warned they will serve prison sentences if they don’t stay off social media for two years.
Suspended sentences were imposed on all three over the incident which was recorded on mobile phone and footage went viral on social media.
The altercation between John Maughan (27), formerly of Rinville Park, Oranmore, who now lives in Dublin, and Patrick Maughan (31), of 122 Laurel Park, Newcastle, was filmed on Patrick Maughan’s phone by his wife, Ellen Maughan (31), who is John Maughan’s sister.
The footage was uploaded that evening to YouTube, where it gained a lot of traction.
Galway District Court heard this week the trio were sitting in their cars when Gardaí arrived at the scene within a matter of minutes.
They were subsequently charged with affray at Dublin Road, Murrough, Renmore, on November 2, 2018, in that all three used or threatened to use violence towards each other, thereby putting other people present in fear for their own safety and the safety of others.
Both men were also charged with breaching the peace.
Garda Pat Casey told the sentence hearing the incident occurred at 2.30pm on the main road between GMIT and the Garda HQ.
He said the men’s cars met, whether by accident or design, at that location where they got out and had a fist fight in the middle of the road.
Judge Mary Fahy asked if the location chosen for the fight, right outside the new Garda HQ, was deliberate.
Garda Casey said the men claimed they met by accident, “but that was where they met”, he added.
“The inference is they did it deliberately outside the Station to make it even better on social media. They are an absolute disgrace to do that in public and to do it in front of their children,” Judge Fahy said.
This is a shortened preview version of this court report. To read the article in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Cycle plans for Galway City get bumpy ride from councillors
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A €24 million plan to transform the greater urban area into a cycle friendly zone got a bumpy ride when introduced to city councillors at a meeting this week.
Councillors were presented with four consultants’ report outlining a framework for the narrowing of many city roads to facilitate cycle lanes and better pedestrian access.
However, several councillors hit out at the way the cycling proposals which were presented to them just hours before their scheduled meeting.
Former Mayor of Galway, Cllr Frank Fahey (FG) said that it just wasn’t good enough to have to consider such detailed proposals on city transport issues after only being emailed the details that morning shortly after 11am.
Cllr Declan McDonnell (Ind), said that there was no joined-up thinking as regards the proposals and he asked if the residents of the east side of the city were consulted about what was being proposed.
“There is a real issue here with communication and consultation. We have businesses in Salthill that are down €25 million in terms of their business turnover and yet there was no consultation with them. It’s absolutely crazy going forward with no consultation,” said Cllr McDonnell.
Independent Knocknacarra councillor, Donal Lyons said that he had only received these detailed consultants’ reports just four hours before the meeting – he also wanted to know why Salthill was being treated differently to other areas.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the proposals, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.
Four-storey apartment block planned at Renmore cottage site
Planning permission has been sought to construct a four-storey apartment block and three two-storey homes on a 0.8-acre site off the Renmore Road.
K King Construction Ltd is proposing to demolish the existing cottage at 78 Renmore Road to create access to the site, which backs onto Nolan Park.
The plans include 19 residential units in all, consisting of three detached four-bed houses to the south of the site, adjacent to Dún na Mara; 10 two-bed apartments and six one-bed apartments, to be accessed by a new vehicular entrance road where the cottage currently stands.
According to the planning application, the development would provide “a positive net gain of new residential units on an under-utilised infill plot” on lands which are zoned ‘Residential’ in the City Development Plan.
Some 22 car parking spaces are to be provided on-site – two for each detached house and one space per apartment unit; in addition, 34 covered bicycle parking spaces are provided for.
Each apartment will have a balcony while a children’s playground is proposed for an area south of the apartment block.
The materials and finish of the buildings are to be similar to those used in the adjacent Dún na Mara development that was completed in recent years by the same developer.
The development would include provision for new pedestrian access for residents to Nolan Park/Renmore Playing Fields by utilising “previously inaccessible” recreation and amenity lands.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read it in full, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.