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Saturday 23 September 2017

Landlord Health Minister still gets rent from doctors' surgery

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Health Minister Dr James Reilly is continuing to get a rental income for his north Dublin GP surgery, it was confirmed yesterday.

Dr Reilly had a large GP practice at the Fingal Clinic in Lusk Town Centre in Dublin, where he is also landlord.

When he became a minister, he transferred the practice to Dr Susan Keenan, who now runs the surgery, which also employs doctors and nurses.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly told the Irish Independent that he was on leave of absence from the practice and the beneficiary income goes to the staff. However, Dr Reilly continues to take a rental payment.

Dr Reilly has a large list of medical card patients for whom he received an annual capitation payment and other allowances, leaving him among the highest earners in the scheme.

When he was a practising GP he rowed in with the then Health Minister, Micheal Martin, who published the individual earnings of GPs from the medical card scheme.

Dr Reilly, who earned €214,000 in annual payments from the scheme, said: "I do hope there will be no more PR stunts by the minister. I don't want to up the ante in the row, but I think it regrettable they have tried this tactic of individualising and embarrassing GPs."

He said the so-called "gravy train" cash was spent on paying his and his partner's full-time doctor's salaries, and those of an assistant and part-time doctor. It also paid for three nurses and three secretaries, running costs and a mortgage for two surgeries in north Dublin.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet sub-committee on health, chaired by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and attended by Dr Reilly, Public Service Minister Brendan Howlin and Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald, met yesterday to discuss the funding crisis that has seen the Health Service Executive (HSE) overrun rise to €281.6m in May.

A spokesman for Dr Reilly said it was decided to go back to the HSE and ask for a plan to be drawn up to tackle spending in areas such as agency staff, drugs, procurement, absenteeism and sick leave.

The HSE has been told not to close beds or cut admissions of patients from waiting lists. However, as hospitals struggle with a deficit of €133m, it will be impossible to avoid bed closures and a possible freeze on staff recruitment.

Dr Reilly had promised to generate more income for the HSE by making health insurers pay if one of their subscribers is put in a public bed, but this this has not yet materialised.

Irish Independent

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