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Doctors earn far too much - poll
[Posted: Tue 08/03/2011 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
More than two-thirds of people believe Irish doctors earn far too much, according to our latest readers' poll.
The new Government has pledged to reduce the pay of both hospital consultants and GPs in new contracts which would form part of major health reforms.
Fine Gael's Dr James Reilly, who is expected to be appointed Health Minister tomorrow, has already said the days of consultants earning around €170,000 per year from their public hospital contracts and a further €300,000-plus on top of that from private work would end under the new Government.
The new Government plans to introduce a new system of universal health insurance which would give everyone equal access to hospital care after 2016. In addition, a free GP care system is to be introduced by 2016.
The new Government believes, however, that a key part of its planned health reforms will be putting a brake on doctors' earnings.
We asked our readers whether they thought of Irish doctors' earnings.
Seventy-one per cent said they believed doctors here earned far too much, while 19% said they were entitled to the earnings they currently enjoyed.
Five per cent believed doctors don't get paid enough while 5% weren't sure. Around 350 people voted in the poll.
Some of the comments from viewers on the poll highlighted the rate of fees charged to see consultants in their private rooms.
Unlike hospital treatment and accommodation fees, these fees are usually not fully covered by most people's health insurance policies.
Among the comments on doctors' charges were:
"A consultant raised his fee for recurring visits from €100 to €150 - a 50% increase in the middle of a recession! I stopped going back to him and he wrote a pleading letter saying it was for the sake of my health though I am not so sure. Now he has my GP trying to persuade me."
"I thought the GP fee was bad until I went to a consultant rheumatologist, wow! €170 for a follow-up visit plus €92 for pain relief injection. That was €262 for under 15 minutes!"
"I had a condition which needed urgent treatment but to get that I was asked to pay €250. That was followed by nine further appointments each costing €200. When I thought I was finished my consultant stated that he would like me to see a friend of his to ensure that no damage had been done by the treatment to another part of my anatomy. I went to that appointment and it cost me €200 for 20 minutes chat about my condition. He also had a friend who carried out a test which Consultant No 2 would like to see done. That followed the following week - it cost €250. Then back to No 2 (another €200) and then back to No 1 (another €200) to be told - fine but we will rerun these tests in 6 months just to be sure."
"I voted not sure because of an incident which involved a member of our family 3/4 yrs ago. This member had had a blood test and this lead to a further investigation. The procedure was carried out privately under his VHI cover. One evening - if I remember correctly possibly 9.30 pm our telephone rang and it was the consultant who had carried out the investigation. He was concerned about the result he had received from the investigation procedure, and rang to say he had made a follow up appointment for further investigation the following day with two other medics. Speed was important obviously in this case. I always remember sitting and thinking to myself - most people are at home now enjoying their evenings with their families and here is this man telephoning us at this late hour. I know he was paid well by the VHI for his work but many people are well paid for their work but not many would be telephoning their clients at that hour. It slightly changed my mind on consultants fees etc. This was just one incident but it made me think."
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