Saturday 17 March 2018

21 GPs get €500k from medical card fees

An inner-city Dublin GP was the top earner from the medical card scheme
An inner-city Dublin GP was the top earner from the medical card scheme

Brian McDonald and Eilish O'Regan

A GP practice in Dublin's inner city was the top earner in the medical card scheme last year, grossing over €825,000 in fees and allowances, new figures reveal.

The practice, headed by Dr Austin O'Carroll, has around nine doctors who care for a panel of 2,500 medical card patients. The income figures are also increased by the service his team provide to the homeless in 11 outreach clinics.

The sum of €827,658 includes yearly capitation fees for patients as well as additional payments such as practice expenses, grants for hiring staff as well as study or annual leave.

Overall, 21 GP practices received payments of more than €500,000 from the HSE for their participation in the schemes last year.

The official figures provided by the Health Service Executive (HSE) reveal that the 100 top-earning GPs under the medical card and general medical services schemes claimed €46.7m between them in 2013.

Dr Carroll's practice saw its payment rise by €32,244 compared to the previous year, a reflection in part of the growing numbers of homeless in the city.

He is followed on the list by Dr Catherine Coleman in Dublin North West, whose practice received gross payments amounting to €682,180, including practice support in 2013.

Tallaght GP, Dr Andrew Jordan, who has been prominent in highlighting the effects of cuts in fees to GPs in many practices, was the third-highest earner under the State-sponsored medical schemes. He claimed a total of €666,622 last year.

The highest-earning GP outside of Dublin was Dr Donal Coffey in Co Kerry, who received €586,659 in 2013. He is followed in the HSE South region by Dr William Gerard Lynch in Wexford, who earned €580,677.

In the HSE West region, Dr Michael Casey received the highest amount in payments under the medical-card and general medical services schemes last year, earning a gross total of €542,013.

The second-highest claimant in the West was Dr Brendan Day in Galway, with €527,182.

A set annual capitation payment is made to GPs regardless of whether or how often a patient visits their doctor during the year. Doctors have pointed out the payments are gross and must be used to pay staff, including other GPs in their practice, plus meet overheads.

The government is planning to introduce free GP care for 240,000 under-sixes from the autumn but the fees paid to GPs have yet to be worked out. The Programme for Government promised free GP care for all the population by 2016 but this will not be met.

Irish Independent

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