Top-earning GP practice receives €1.1m for treating patients with medical cards
The top-earning GP practice in the medical card scheme earned more than €1.1m last year.
The practice in Tallaght, south-west Dublin is run by Dr Andrew Jordan, chairman of the National Association of General Practitioners.
The HSE said payments worth €551m were made under the scheme to GPs last year - up from €453m in 2014.
Dr Jordan said the payment had to be put in context and pointed out it was a gross sum which covered the running of a business with a large staff including six doctors and nurses.
"We provide a seven-day service and do not rely on an out-of-hours service," he said.
His patients are from some of the most deprived areas of the city.
The figure includes practice supports which are given to GPs to help employ nurses.
Dr Jordan continues to be paid on a fee-per-item basis although most GPs get a capitation fee for each medical card holder.
"We would need double that figure to supply the kind of service we would like give," said Dr Jordan, who has been in the frontline of the fight to reverse the cuts in fees imposed on GPs by the HSE during the recession.
The second highest earner is Dr Austin O'Carroll, who runs a large practice in the north inner city in Dublin which includes services to a range of patients, including people with drug addictions and the homeless.
Dr O'Carroll's practice, which employs a large staff, had a gross medical income of €903,176 which includes around €100,000 in practice supports.
The third highest earner at €843,263 was Dr Catherine Coleman who has a practice in north-west Dublin.
The fourth highest earner at €805,084 was Dr Andrew Coady who also works in Tallaght.
Outside the capital, the highest earner at €645,001 was Dr Michael Casey who has a practice in Galway.
The practice of Dr Keith Swanick, a Fianna Fáil senator, received €489,313 in payments, including nearly €100,000 in grants for staff.
There are more than 2,000 GPs in the medical card scheme which also pays pharmacists, opticians and dentists.
The first 100 GPs earned above €420,000.
Some 28 GPs had payments of more than €500,000.
The Irish Medical Organisation is in talks with the Department of Health on reversing the cuts in fees imposed on GPs and negotiating on the delivery of new services.
Padraig McGarry, chairman of the IMO GP Committee, said that the figures provided by the HSE were utterly misleading and implied that GPs were receiving much more income than was actually the case.
"The figures are gross figures which take no account of the substantial costs incurred by GPs in providing services including cost of premises, staff, technology, insurance and every other business cost that they are liable for," he said.
Chris Goodey, chief executive of the National Association of General Practitioners, said: "GPs receive, on average, €9 per month for each medical card patient irrespective of whether they attend once or 10 times over that month."