Reilly facing upheaval to avoid conflict of interest in new role
Published 12/03/2011 | 05:00
NEW Health Minister James Reilly, who is a medical doctor and millionaire owner of lucrative businesses, is facing major legal and financial upheaval to avoid a conflict of interest in his new job, the Irish Independent has learned.
As minister, and a former president of the Irish Medical Organisation, he will be making controversial decisions affecting the earnings of GPs.
He will also have to engage in tough negotiations with doctors' unions.
But as the owner of two GP practices -- which includes a state-of-the-art medical centre in Lusk town centre in Dublin -- his public and private interests are set to clash.
A spokeswoman for the minister said last night: "Arrangements have been made for him to comply with the relevant regulations and avoid a conflict of interest between his personal affairs and job as minister."
However, the Fine Gael deputy leader's register of public interests is still unaltered.
His extensive empire includes his contract with the Health Service Executive for a large list of medical card holders, registered with his surgeries, who generate an income of more than €300,000 in fees and allowances.
The practice is run by another GP since Dr Reilly became a TD in 2007, but he remains the owner.
The minister is the proprietor of the medical centre in Lusk, including a pharmacy and another surgery in Donabate, also in north Dublin. And he has a quarter share in the Green Hills Nursing Home in Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary.
As minister, Dr Reilly intends to change the Fair Deal scheme, which is the main funding source for nursing homes.
A spokesman for the Standards in Public Office Commission last night confirmed that ministers, as office holders, are bound by a code of conduct and ethics. This means that if they have ministerial responsibility for an area of business in which they are involved they cannot take part in making decisions or managing its affairs while in office.
The code states they need to dispose of or set aside financial interests which might "conflict or be seen to conflict" with their position as office holder.
The Government has promised to bring in free GP care for the entire population in five years' time which will see doctors get a yearly fee for each patient registered with them.
They are also to get financial incentives for treating people with illnesses like diabetes.
The Government will also extend the medical card to groups such as those on the long-term illness scheme in the short term.