The Public Accounts Committee has published a highly critical  report on the Health Service Executive based on three meetings with representatives from the Executive in 2012.

Criticising HSE budget overruns, the PAC report questioned the Executive's practice of incorporating anticipated savings and extra income into the 2012 estimate, which failed to materialise.

One example highlighted was the inclusion of €124m in savings on drugs payments - even though negotiations on the cost of certain drugs had not concluded.

Committee Chairman John McGuinness said that what it had found most disturbing was that "at at time when it was under financial pressure, the HSE had failed to put procedures in place to collect income that was due".

Mr McGuinness said that because hospital consultants were not signing off on private health insurance claims, €74m had not been submitted for collection from private health insurers.

Mr McGuinness said that he was generally unhappy with the HSE's level of co-operation with the PAC and said that information was often slow in terms of being made available.

He said that far greater powers should be made available to the PAC in terms of sanctions available in ensuring that problems identified in the past, do not re-surface in the future.

PAC members present at today's launch said that they would be following up the issue when HSE representatives appear before them in the future.

Deputy Chairman of the Committee Kieran O Donnell said the HSE's management and collection of funds defied logic and was unforgiveable.

Fine Gael's Simon Harris said there were too many separate financial systems within the HSE and it seemed the Executive was more concerned with getting debt collectors onto patients than in ensuring consultants signed off on insurance forms.

Mr Harris pointed out that the HSE couldn't blame this on the current financial situation because it has never, in its eight years of existence, come within its budget.