Dublin pharmacy received €835,000 in State scheme fees

HSE report shows one dental practice received €362,000 in payments for 2014

A HSE report has claimed that Abbey Healthcare Ltd, a pharmacy business in south Dublin, received a total of €835,910 in fees and mark-up payments in 2014. Photograph: PA Wire

A HSE report has claimed that Abbey Healthcare Ltd, a pharmacy business in south Dublin, received a total of €835,910 in fees and mark-up payments in 2014. Photograph: PA Wire

 

One pharmacy in Dublin received more than €800,000 in fees for dispensing drugs and medicines under various State schemes last year, according to a HSE report.

Figures released by the HSE also show that professional fees of more than €423,000 were paid to one optician’s business last year.

The new figures also reveal that the highest earning dental practice received more than €362,000 in fees for operating State schemes.

The release of the information has met with resistance. The Irish Dental Association’s chief executive Fintan Hourihan said the HSE had ceased publication of dentists’ payments last year in response to representations made by his organisation to the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

He said he could not now understand the reason for this policy reversal by the HSE.

He said the association would “discuss these developments with our legal advisers in the coming days”.

The HSE report says that Abbey Healthcare Ltd, a pharmacy business in south Dublin received a total of €835,910 in fees and mark-up payments for a range of schemes last year including the GMS (medical card), drug payment scheme, long-term illness scheme, methadone scheme and hi-tech drug scheme.

Hickeys Pharmacy Group in Dublin north central received fees and mark-up payments of €794,000 over the same period, according to the HSE report.

The third highest level of fees and mark-up payments went to Waterford Health Park Pharmacy which received €741,000 in total fees and mark-up payments.

State schemes

John Heeney

The dental practice of Jacqueline M Foley in the midwest received €303,000, while the practice of Martin Vaughan in north Dublin received €299,000 in fees.

The highest level of fees which were paid to optometrists/ophthalmologists was €423,000 which went to Dr John Keane in the midlands.

The Irish Pharmacy Union said that over the past number of years “the level of dispensing had increased, while at the same time the cuts imposed through financial emergency legislation and, more recently, the ongoing aggressive implementation of reference pricing is putting many pharmacies under increased pressure”.

“A recent review by accountants Fitzgerald Power calculated that, since 2009, the State has extracted at least €1.733 billion in overall savings from community pharmacy payments, through a combination of reduced reimbursements for medicines, as well as significant cuts to pharmacists’ remuneration through fee reductions and elimination of mark-ups on State-funded schemes.

“This is a substantial deterioration in income in a market that continues to remain difficult with increased competition, reduced expenditure on health and reference pricing.

“With an increase in the level of items dispensed and a reduction in fees, pharmacies are now doing a lot more for less.”

Operation costs

The Irish Dental Association said the publication of the payment figures presented a “misleading impression”.

It said it suggested the figures released represented the levels of income which dentists earned “when in fact they reflect payments towards the cost of treatment provided, the vast bulk of which relates to practice and staff running costs, materials used and everyday overheads”.

“When these other costs are factored in it is clear the payment for professional services to dentists constitutes a small portion of the overall payment.”