Statement by Irish Medical Organisation
Tuesday 21st November 2017. Based on RTE reports about its content, the Primetime programme tonight does not accurately reflect the working times of the vast majority of Consultants in the Irish health service. The vast majority of Consultants work over and above their contractual commitments. A recent survey by the IMO found that on average consultants worked up to an additional 20 hours per week (above their contractual obligation) for which they received no remuneration.
In terms of some of the allegations being made in the programme, the 2008 contract has provisions to facilitate the HSE in monitoring and ensuring compliance with contractually agreed restrictions on private practice.
There are also significant shortcomings with the HIPE classification system of patients by the HSE. For example, all patients are entitled to receive treatment in a public hospital irrespective of whether or not they hold private health insurance. Since 2014, private patients who present and are subsequently admitted to public hospitals are asked, as a matter of course, to waive their rights to be treated as public patients so that their insurance companies can be charged for private accommodation rates. Within the national data however these patients are registered as private though they were not necessarily admitted by a consultant as a private patient. In 2017 the Department of Health report on Trends in Public and Private Activity in Public Acute Hospitals found that public patients accounted for approximately 83% of public hospital discharges over the period 2012 to 2016.
It is Government policy that has starved the health service of much needed funds; funds which have been diverted into the private hospitals via the National Treatment Purchase Fund. The IMO and its consultant members have consistently called for the public health system to be appropriately funded and for Government to cease diverting funds to private hospitals.