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Failures in HSE oversight reason behind non-adherence to consultant’s private practice limits – O’Reilly

22 November, 2017 - by Louise O'Reilly TD


Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has said that a lack of HSE oversight into work practices in hospitals is the main reason behind why a small number of consultants are ignoring their public hospital waiting list responsibilities and spending a disproportionate amount of their publically contracted time solely dealing with their private lists.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“Last night’s RTÉ Primetime Show “Public V Private: The Battle for Care” highlighted many deficiencies and issues regarding private practice in our public hospitals throughout the state.

“Most shocking of all was how a small number of consultants are ignoring their public hospital waiting list responsibilities and spending a disproportionate amount of their publically contracted time solely dealing with their private lists. That a consultant who is publically contracted to do 39 hours public work is getting away with just doing 13 hours is completely disgraceful.

“In 2014, the HSE stopped compiling compliance with private practice limits within public hospitals, the result being that a number of consultants have since been ignoring these limits and spending a disproportionate amount of their publically contracted time solely dealing with their private lists in public hospitals.

“This is completely unacceptable and the responsibility for this rests in three places, with the consultants involved, the HSE, and finally with the hospitals. 

“The HSE, as I have said, have failed in their duty to oversee compliance, the hospitals allow, and in some ways encourage, the consultants to operate in this way because they are forced to raise their own funds from private practice in public hospitals to meet spending targets (stretch income targets), and finally for some of these consultants it is more lucrative to operate in this way.

“However, it is the public at large who are suffering because of this. Every time private practice limits are broken, it is patients on the public hospital waiting lists who suffer and these lists continue to grow longer. 

“From what was uncovered, it appears that the consultants who are engaged in this practice are in a minority and do a disservice to the great work consultants do daily, most of whom work huge hours to cover gaps because of the recruitment and retention crisis. 

“The evidence seen last night and the general available evidence of how private practice in public hospitals impinges on public waiting lists is further evidence of why we must disentangle the private and the public healthcare systems and remove all private practice from public hospitals. 

“The Minister for Health Simon Harris and the HSE must address this situation as a matter of extreme urgency and begin with the elimination of stretch income targets and other perverse incentives.” 

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