Sunday 22 October 2017

Why are the doctors under scrutiny?

(Stock photo)
(Stock photo)

Why is the HSE asking independent auditors to check the private practice of consultants in St Vincent's?

The HSE says the type of contracts many of the doctors have do not permit them to work in the private hospital.

Are hospital consultant contracts not all the same?

No, there is quite a mix. Some get the top pay rate so treat only public patients. Others can treat public and private patients in their own hospital. Others get a lesser salary and can treat public patients and also private patients in a private hospital offsite.

So what kind of contracts do these consultants under the spotlight have?

Category B - they can treat public patients but only in private beds in the public hospital.

What does St Vincent's Healthcare Group say?

The St Vincent's campus is unique in the country - it has a public and private hospital on the one campus, linked by a long corridor. St Vincent's says it is co-located and this is allowed under the 2008 contract.

At that point the Government envisaged there would be co-located hospitals, although they never materialised. St Vincent's hospital is a different kind of private hospital.

It seems a straightforward arrangement - why the fuss?

The HSE says the doctors' terms and conditions do not allow them work in a private hospital. They are being paid accordingly. The view is that St Vincent's private hospital is benefiting from doctors who are being paid by the taxpayer.

What is the wider significance of the move?

It comes at a time the Minister for Health is trying to get ownership of the new national maternity hospital to be built at St Vincent's campus for the HSE.

If the State owns the hospital, the HSE will be dominant and St Vincent's will have a more minor role.

Irish Independent

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