Hospital slips into the red despite €23.2m budget rise

By Mary Dennehy

AN ELEVEN per cent budget increase in 2017 was not sufficient to offset an increase in costs at Tallaght University Hospital – with income also down due to a reduction in private health insurance.

While the hospital did receive an increased allocation in 2017 of 11.3 per cent (€23.2m), it was not sufficient to meet this increase in costs.

Tallaght hospital 6

According to Tallaght University Hospital’s 2017 annual report, the local health facility’s out-turn for 2017 was €229.4 million – a growth in costs of 9.8 per cent (€20.4m) when compared with 2016’s out-turn of €209m.

According to the report, the growth in costs can be attributed to: full-year effect of 2016 national pay awards (€2.6m), 2017 national pay awards (€6.6m), service developments 2016 full year impact 2017 (€5.4m), service development funded 2017 (€1.4m), reduction in private health insurance income (€2m) and pension costs (€1.5m).

Non-pay expenditure increased by €7.1m mainly as a result of new service activity such as renal dialysis and an increase in out-sourcing initiatives in an attempt to reduce waiting lists and improve access.

The impact of superbug CPE (carbapenemase-producing enterobacteriaceae) in the hospital during 2017 also pushed up non-pay costs by €1m – which was spent on laboratory re-agents and kits for testing alongside cleaning and laundry.

According to the report: “The hospital is still dealing with CPE and it continues to be a significant ongoing cost to the hospital.”

Income also decreased by 2.8 per cent (€1.7m) mainly due to the reduction in private health insurance income.

According to the hospital report, this is due to insurance companies asking patients not to use their private health insurance in public hospitals unless they get access to a single room.

Not the capacity to offer single rooms to all private patients

The annual reports states: “The impact to the hospital is significant as there is not the capacity to offer single rooms to all private patients due to the pressure associated with the requirement to isolate infectious patients.

“This is a national issue and needs to be addressed directly between the Department of Health and the insurance companies.”

All in all, the hospital ended 2017 with a deficit of €1.5m, which led to a culminative deficit (rolling deficit from over the years) of €20.4m.

In a comment to The Echo, Tallaght University Hospital said: “The overall financial performance of TUH in 2017 resulted in a year-on-year deficit of €1.5m.

“Despite receiving an 11 per cent budget increase, this was not sufficient to offset an increase in costs and a reduction in income for the year.

“Costs grew by almost 10 per cent due to the full-year effect of the 2016 and 2017 national pay awards, added services at the hospital and new initiatives to reduce waiting lists and improve access.

“There were also increases in pension costs and for measures to assist in the early identification and management of CPE infection.”

Read the full annual report on www.tuh.ie

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