A man complained to Ombudsman Peter Tyndall after he was charged €1,500 for a number of hospital stays. This was despite a cap of €750 on such charges at the time.
The man, who suffers from a severe kidney condition, was admitted to two different hospitals over 12 months. He spent a total of 30 nights in hospital. At the time there was a €75 per day charge for a hospital stay. (The charge is now €80 per day). However, this charge was capped at €750 in any 12 month period regardless of how many public hospitals a patient is admitted to, or the condition that requires treatment.
When the Ombudsman investigated the complaint he was initially told by the Heath Service Executive (HSE) that the 12 month cap was in respect of each hospital and, therefore, the man was correctly charged €1,500. However when the Ombudsman brought the relevant legislation to the HSE’s attention it agreed to refund the excess charge to the man.
The man spent nine nights in the first hospital and was correctly charged €675. He then had to spend 20 nights in a second hospital. The second hospital charged him the capped fee of €750, but did not take account of the €675 the man had already paid the first hospital.
There is no integrated payment system for managing hospital charges and the Ombudsman was concerned that other patients could be similarly effected in the future. As a result, the HSE published clearer guidelines on its website, along with advice on the importance of patients keeping receipts. It has also updated information notices in hospitals and asked hospital groups to do the same. The Ombudsman will review the actions taken by the HSE in the coming months.
Source: Ombudsman of Ireland