Dáil Éireann - Volume 305 - 06 April, 1978

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Voluntary Hospitals.

10. Dr. O'Connell asked the Minister for Health (a) the total number of voluntary hospitals in Ireland, (b) the total State subvention received by these hospitals, (c) the proportion of these hospitals that publish annual reports and (d) the measures his Department has taken to ensure that there is full [220] public accountability for money spent by those hospitals which do not publish annual reports.

Mr. Haughey: The total number of public voluntary hospitals which receive direct grants from the Exchequer is 48. These grants are estimated to total £77.8 million in 1978.

There is no requirement on voluntary hospitals to publish annual reports and I am unable to say what proportion of them do so.

In so far as accounting is concerned the hospitals produce accounts on the basis of standard forms specified by my Department. They are also required to conform to the same financial controls as apply in the case of health boards relating to such matters as recruitment of staff and the undertaking of new developments. They also submit monthly financial statements to the Department. These relate to the budgetary allocations. There is continuous contact between officers of my Department and the management of the hospitals in regard to matters arising from the financial statements. Each hospital also produces audited annual accounts. These are examined by my Department in connection with the finalisation of grants payments in respect of each accounting year.

Dr. O'Connell: Is the Minister aware that some voluntary hospitals produce annual reports and would he not indicate to hospitals that do not do so that it would be in the best public interest to do so, first, in regard to management of finances and, secondly, in regard to management of clinical affairs which should become public knowledge? In view of the fact that some of them do and that some have not done so for ten years, would he advise them that it would be in the best public interest for all of them to do so?

Mr. Haughey: These institutions vary greatly from one to another. My primary concern is to ensure—in the context of this question—that their accounts are submitted regularly to me and that we are fully aware of their expenditure and their needs so that we can base our allocations to them as accurately as possible.

[221] Dr. O'Connell: It is more than just financial accountability that is involved here. Because the State pays so much there is a certain obligation on the State to ensure that there is accountability other than financial.

Mr. Haughey: The Deputy's question is entirely directed to the financial position.

Dr. O'Connell: No, it is not actually.

Mr. Haughey: I took it that it was when he spoke about the proportion of these hospitals that publish annual reports. I am sorry if I took that as meaning, in the context of the question, financial reports.

Dr. O'Connell: Perhaps the Minister would ask them to publish reports?

Mr. Haughey: I will consider that. I might add that I have a working group at present looking into the question of more and better information for patients in hospital. Naturally a patient in any hospital likes to get a little history of the hospital and a description of its services.