Medics delaying HSE payout won't be named
HOSPITAL consultants who are holding up the collection of more than €64m of income due to the HSE from private health insurers will not be named and shamed due to fears that they could sue.
The HSE has been told that consultants could make a claim for "defamation, breach of confidentiality and/or breach of data protection laws", the Government's spending watchdog, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), was told.
The consultants' failure to complete the paperwork delays payments from the health insurers for accommodating consultants' private patients in public hospitals.
Steve Tweed, the director of industrial relations of doctors' union the IMO, said it would not countenance the naming of any consultant for delays in filling out forms.
He added that a significant cause for delays is that health insurers query the length of stay of patients and send the forms back to the consultant for clarification.
"This is particularly so in geriatric medicine. Health insurers do not have a clear understanding of the complexities involved in treating the elderly," he said.
Mr Tweed added that the IMO has agreed to co-operate with the HSE's target of getting the forms filled within 14 days.
This has been a major bone of contention between the HSE, Health Minister James Reilly and the 2,500 consultants and was one of the factors behind the HSE running a deficit last year of more than €400m.
HSE chief Tony O'Brien said it is in danger of running up "a significant deficit" by the end of this year again.
A HSE spokesperson said the national amount outstanding at the end of last year stood at €64.5m.