#Open journalism No news is bad news

Your contributions will help us continue to deliver the stories that are important to you

Support The Journal
Dublin: 14°C Monday 2 August 2021
Advertisement

34 consultants rapped for treating more private patients than public ones

Almost three-dozen consultants employed by the state spent more time treating private patients than public ones.

34 consultants were investigated last year after the HSE discovered that they were treating more private patients than public ones.
34 consultants were investigated last year after the HSE discovered that they were treating more private patients than public ones.
Image: 401K via Flickr

HEALTH MINISTER James Reilly has revealed that 34 consultants on the payroll of the public health services have been reprimanded for building up workloads where they treated more patients in their private practices than public patients.

The consultants’ employers engaged with the consultants after it emerged that they were in breach of official rules on public-private treatment ratios, which oblige most consultants to limit their private consultancies to 30 per cent of their total workload.

In 32 cases, the matters were resolved to the satisfaction of the Health Service Executive – but in two cases consultants who did not reduce their private ratio to an acceptable deemed acceptable by the HSE had their private practice rights suspended.

“In line with the terms of the contract, one of these consultants has remitted the excess private fee income into a research and study fund in the hospital concerned,” Reilly said.

The HSE’s investigations follow rules introduced in 2008 which meant that newly-appointed consultants were told they could only spend 20 per cent of their time treating patients on a private basis.

Consultants who were on contract before 2008 were allowed to maintain their previous ratio of 30 per cent.

In a written response to Fianna Fáil health spokesman Billy Kelleher, Reilly said the HSE was now proceeding to take action against consultants in breach of the 30 per cent ratio.

The minister said the HSE’s engagement with consultants and medical unions had resulted in a “significant improvement in the level of compliance with the public practice rules”.

Records published late last year showed that over 700 public patients had been referred to the National Treatment Purchase Fund by consultants acting in a public capacity – only for the patient to then be referred to the same consultant on a private basis.

This was despite NRPF rules stipulating that patients whose private healthcare bills were being covered by the fund should not be treated by the same consultant doctor who had seen them through the public system.

Read: Hundreds of patients referred to private fund – only to be seen by same consultant >

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

Read next:

COMMENTS (22)