One general practice in Dublin received €1.1m from State last year

IMO says release of earnings figures are ‘misleading and unhelpful’

The HSE paid out €533 million in fees and allowances to GPs in 2017.  Photograph:  Thinkstock

The HSE paid out €533 million in fees and allowances to GPs in 2017. Photograph: Thinkstock

 

One general practice received more than €1.1 million in gross fees and other payments from the State last year, official figures reveal.

Nearly 30 doctors’ practices received more than €500,000 in total payments for operating the general medical services scheme, according to the figures released on Friday by the HSE.

The figures show that the practice of Dr Andrew Jordan in Dublin southwest received gross payments in total of €1,107,592.47 including practice supports in 2017.

The HSE figures showed that the practice of Dr Austin O’Carroll in Dublin northwest received total gross payments of €903,000 including practice supports.

The practice of Dr Catherine Coleman in Dublin northwest received gross total payments of more than €843,000 including practice supports.

Doctors’ representatives have argued that the figures released by the HSE do not take into account practice expenses and do not represent salaries of individual family doctors.

Dr Jordan,who is chairman of the National Association of General Practitioners, did not comment on Friday.

‘Misleading’

The HSE paid out €533 million in fees and allowances to GPs in 2017.

It has forecast that this will increase to more than €540 million this year.

The Irish Times understands that the HSE has also predicted in a submission to the Department of Health that GP earnings could reach €565 million in 2019 based on existing levels of service.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) which represents GPs, criticised the release of the details of the payments for family doctors’ practices as “misleading and unhelpful”.

The chairman of the IMO’s GP committee Dr Padraig McGarry said on Friday that the figures provided by the HSE were misleading and implied that GPs were receiving much more income than was actually the case.

“The figures are gross figures which take no account of the substantial costs incurred by GPs in providing services including cost of premises, staff, technology, insurance and every other business cost that they are liable for.”

Dr McGarry said GPs engaged in more than 25 million clinical consultations a year. He said more than €160 million had been taken out of GP services since the financial crisis.

‘Disappointed’

Dr McGarry said that GP services remained under-resourced compared to every other European country and this was having disastrous consequences for other parts of the health services.

“The IMO are currently in negotiation with the HSE and Department of Health on GP funding and unless significant investment is forthcoming, general practice will fail.”

The NAGP said “the release of these figures in isolation provides a misleading impression that this is what GPs earn”.

The association’s chief executive Chris Goodey said: “The fees indicated by the HSE fund the salaries of the GP employees, practice nurses and administration staff, the cost of premises, insurance, technology, supplies, insurance, light and heat, consumables, etc.

“GPs receive, on average, €9 per month for each medical card patient irrespective of whether they attend once or 10 times over that month. The reality is that these payments do not cover the cost of that care.

“We are disappointed that the HSE has released these grossly-misleading figures. It is an issue that we will be reporting to the Data Protection Commissioner.”