HSE payments of over €500,000 go to 20 GP centres
Twenty GP practices each received more than €500,000 in HSE fees for treating medical card patients and delivering other State-funded services last year, new figures reveal.
The top earners were three GP co-ops which provide out-of hours services. The highest payment was made to CareDoc in the south east, which received €2.5m.
Dr Austin O' Carroll, who has a large practice employing several doctors and other staff in Dublin's north inner city received €994,067 in gross fees.
Other practices in socially disadvantaged areas, where the majority of patients are covered by medical cards, also received over €500,000.
They include the surgeries led by Dr Catherine Coleman in north west Dublin (€642,763) and Dr Andrew Jordan in Tallaght (€631,309).
Dr Andrew Coady who also has an extensive surgery, caring for patients in a deprived area in south west Dublin, received €597,658, according to the figures supplied to Fine Gael TD Brian Nolan.
The payments include capitation fees per patient as well as practice support grants which the doctors get to employ staff such as nurses and clerical workers.
Dr Padraig McGarry, chair of the GP committee in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said: "The publication of these figures is completely misleading and designed to distract attention from a very real crisis in GP services right across the country as GPs are expected to treat more and more patients with less and less resources.
"These figures are not salaries payable to GPs, before the GP is paid a single cent out of this income they must first pay a range of business expenses.
"These include staff costs (other doctors, nurses and administrative staff) rent, rates, light and heat, IT infrastructure, commercial and medical insurance, vital and expensive medical equipment and more."
He said that the "GP is the last to receive a payment from these monies.
"And despite some of the dramatic headlines these create, the fact remains that a GP receives an average of just €10 per month per GMS patient regardless of how often that patient attends the GP.
"General practice is struggling to deliver existing services to patients and while there is great potential to deliver a whole range of additional services, including chronic care, this can only happen in the context of a new GP contract."