In total, the HSE paid about €2.5 billion to contractors – doctors, dentists, opticians and pharmacists – in 2011, representing about 20 per cent of its total spend. Fee cuts have seen reductions in payments for many professionals but this has been ameliorated by a rise in the number of people qualifying for medical cards.

A Dublin family doctor has earned more than €700,000 from the HSE for treating patients subsidised by the State under the medi(...)