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The first report under the new consultant contract compliance framework has shown a low level of non-compliance regarding private practice, the Medical Independent (MI) can reveal.
At the request of the Department of Health, the HSE established a new process to ensure compliance with the consultant contract.
Data returned for the first reporting period from Hospital Groups, which was January to August 2018, showed there were no instances of non-compliance for “off-site working in contravention of contract”.
Information was received from all Hospitals Groups on the working arrangements of 2,443 consultants.
Only 2 per cent of consultants were non-compliant in relation to “adherence to work plans”, while 10 per cent were non-compliant in relation to “public private mix”, which amounted to 236 consultants.
In the report, which was submitted to the then HSE Interim Director General Mr John Connaghan on 13 November 2018, the then HSE National Director for Acute Operations Mr Liam Woods wrote that the level of private work in public hospitals was in line with the recent report by the Comptroller and Auditor General (C&AG).
The C&AG concluded that the HSE, hospitals and individual consultants had limited control over the private levels as the majority of admitted patients were maternity admissions or admitted through emergency departments.
“To date investigation of non-compliance for public private mix in hospitals has found that in certain specialities it is related to the demographics of emergency admissions, which is beyond the control of the consultants on call,” according to Mr Woods.
“Non-compliance in other areas is also beyond the control of the consultant, due to the nature of the service provided and source of referral. Validation of reports and data in addition to engagement with consultants is also continuing.”
As the reporting process becomes embedded over the coming months, more “robust data and reasons for non-compliance will emerge”, stated Mr Woods.
He added there may be “organisational reasons” such as access to beds/theatres that prevented full compliance with work plans.
Mr Woods told MI the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital, Dublin and University Hospital Limerick had high levels of non-compliance. However, he added that “the Hospital Groups have reduced those over the last 12 months or so, to try and bring it back to a contractual level”.