Minister Harris announces planned engagement on fees for Contracted Health Professionals
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, today announced that in 2018 he will undertake a process of engagement with representative bodies of contracted health professionals, aimed at putting in place a new multi-annual approach to fees, commencing in 2019, in return for service improvement and contractual reform and in line with Government priorities for the health service.
The Minister made this announcement in the context of the Public Service Pay and Pension Bill 2017, a memorandum on which was brought to Cabinet today by the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe TD, and which is designed to deliver an orderly exit from the financial emergency legislation and a return to normal industrial and business relationships.
As part of this, the Government has agreed to put the setting and varying of fees for contractors on a statutory basis. In future, the relevant Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, will have the statutory power to set and vary the fees paid to contractors for goods and services, based on a range of considerations including affordability and value for money.
Given that the State often engages in long-term contracts for the provision of services to citizens, it is vital that the interests of the taxpayer are protected through fluctuations in the economic cycle.
Importantly, this power to set and vary fees provides for consultation with contracted professionals. The groups involved are general practitioners, community pharmacists, dentists, opticians and opthalmologists.
The Minister said “the Bill provides a pathway towards a new multi-annual approach to fees for primary care contractors whose fees were reduced during the crisis. Of course, the approach to any consultation must be informed by the significant structural reforms and productivity improvements that have been delivered across the public sector in recent years. I look forward to positive and fruitful engagement, in the interests of ensuring the continued delivery and modernisation of care to the patients who rely on the public health services.”