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Department refutes fixing claims

04 Sep 2013

By Lloyd Mudiwa.

The review of fees and allowances paid to health professionals under the FEMPI Act announced by Government on last year’s Budget Day (December 5, 2012) was carried out in full compliance with the provision of the legislation, the Department of Health has stressed.

This followed claims by the IMO that the Minister for Health might have predetermined the level of cuts in GP payments, which the organisation, NAGP and ICGP had all deemed as savage, prior to seeking feedback from the affected parties in a consultation exercise.

Hawkins House has dismissed the fixing accusations outright.

“The Minister’s decisions to impose reductions in certain fees and allowances paid to health professionals followed careful consideration of submissions made during the review, having regard to the provisions of the FEMPI Act,” a spokesperson for the Department told IMT last week. “There is no question of any reduction in the rates of payments to any group of health professionals having been pre-determined.”

Steve Tweed, IMO Director of Industrial Relations, had earlier said, in a statement, that the HSE’s claims that some overruns in the Primary Care budget were due to professional fees put a major question mark over the FEMPI consultation process agreed in respect of professional fees.  Efforts to get comment from the HSE failed at the time of going to press.

“Despite previous denials, it seems the Minister for Health had already decided the savings to be made each month under the cuts, even before the consultation process began. This says a lot about the Minister’s view of the consultation process,” Tweed had charged.

He further alleged: “It is also telling that the HSE report that warns of overruns makes no references to whether the planned savings under Government proposals in respect of cost of drugs and other items have in fact been achieved. The proposed savings over the course of the year were to have been €160 million — why has the HSE not referred to these savings in its budget forecast?”

Concerned at recent statements by the HSE on its projected €105 million deficit for 2013, the IMO called on the Government and the Executive to ensure any measures taken to reduce the deficit did not impact further on patient care, contending that the HSE had only itself to blame after failing to implement cost-saving measures worth over €300 million (see, ‘HSE to blame for its €105m deficit says IMO’).

4 September 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times