In a topical issue debate today (video below) I asked the Minister for Health what action will be taken to address the loss of over €70 million due to consultants not signing off on health insurance claims.

In his response on behalf of the Minister for Health, Minister of State Ciaran Cannon indicated that €73 million of claims is delayed because consultants have failed to sign off on claim forms.

As of September, €204 million was due to the HSE from private health insurance companies. €100 million of that relates to claims under preparation in hospitals, and €104 million relates to claims submitted to insurers that are being processed or are pending. The €73 million arises in the €100 million under preparation in hospitals

I welcome that the Minister has instructed the HSE to address this issue as a matter of urgency, and that it was dealt with at the Labour Relations Commission during the recent discussions with the IMO and IHCA.

The Minister informed the House that one of the proposals agreed there was a commitment that consultants would expedite the processing and signing of claims. They will be required to complete and sign forms within 14 days of receipt of all documentation. Further, they will be required to support the implementation of electronic claim preparation.

It is critical that consultants now implement these decisions, and that the HSE receives as quickly as possible the fees from insurance companies for treating private patients in public beds.

It is ten months since I first raised this issue in the Dáil through a parliamentary question last January. I hope we will now no longer have to endure such delays due to shoddy work practises.