The HSE has spent over €1m ferrying patients to and from Mullingar’s Midlands Regional Hospital since 2007, the Leader can reveal.
Approximately €1,093, 712 was shelled out by health service officials during the 2007-11 period with over €200,000 being accounted for last year alone.
The massive outlay on taxi costs and other means of public transport costs are contained in a detailed series of records released to the Leader this week under the Freedom of Information Act.
The records also show that HSE chiefs received more than 600 complaints from dissatisified patients.
Since 2008, exactly 667 cases of patient discontent have been recorded, the largest of which came just last year with 198 incidents being reported.
Between January and July of this year, a total of 116 complaints were received.
The vast bulk, or 46 (40 per cent) to be exact, were classed as being associated with treatment and service delivery. A further 92 complaints meanwhile covered areas such as communication issues (21), staff attitude and manner (16), hospital accommodation/food (25) while a further 30 files documented related to delays linked to waiting times at the hospital.
Local TD James Bannon said complaint numbers were part and parcel of a health system which is still being modified by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly.
The Legan TD also came out in support of Mullingar Hospital, a facility he stressed had made considerable inroads in recent years.
“It (Midlands Regional Hospital, Mullingar) would be one of the most efficiently run hospitals in the country,” he said.
“Many patients have been very complimentary to me about the hospital when they have visited there and you have to remember too that there is a huge turnover of patients to consider.
“You will always have people that will complain no matter what. What I will say is the frontline staff in Mullingar are exceptional people. They are highly committed and for them, working there is not a job, it’s a vocation.”
Deputy Bannon was more guarded when giving his reaction to the near €1.1m spent on the hospital taxi costs however.
“I would like to see a breakdown of where that money was spent. It is a large amount of money, there is no doubt about that but I would like to see an itemised breakdown of those costs,” he said, as he stressed the importance of implementing a clear and transparent tendering process.
Also disclosed are monies spent on pest control. During the same five year period (2007-11), hospital bosses handed over €13,000 in a bid to keep a lid on insect and rodent infestations.