Pathologists who analyse cancer samples have been told not to run tests on any biopsies sent by private consultants if those consultants have not signed a new contract for the covid-19 response with the HSE.
The claim was made by Stephen Donnelly TD who said an email sent by the State Claims Agency instructed that biopsies should not be tested if sent by private consultants “who haven’t signed A contract”.
Consultants were offered a locum contract – known technically as an A-type contract – under which they could see only public patients and would be paid between €141,000 and €195,000 per year (or pro-rata for a shorter period), during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Fianna Fáíl deputy and health spokesman said the biopsies would mainly be in relation to cervical cancer and skin cancers, and called on the Minister for health and Taoiseach to intervene immediately.
I recieved copy of email yesterday sent by State Claims Agency instructing that biopsies NOT be tested if sent by private consultants who haven't signed A contract. That's mainly biopsies for cervical cancer & skin cancers. Minister / Taoiseach needs to intervene immediately. pic.twitter.com/e9VruGhWQM
— Stephen Donnelly (@DonnellyStephen) May 15, 2020
The government’s public contract for private doctors has previously been described as “a bad deal” for taxpayers. Dr Crochan O’Sullivan, consultant cardiologist at the Bons Secour private hospital in Cork city, said the deal was not good value for money.
Some 19 private hospitals are being used to treat public patients throughout the coronavirus outbreak for a three-month period, costing taxpayers about €115 million a month. However critics have said that the hospitals are being under-utilised, and consultants are being barred from seeing private patients because of a contract they say was imposed on them – with likely negative outcomes for patients who cannot get to see their doctors
There were strong reactions online to Donnelly’s revelation – and claims that the HSE was using women’s lives to pressure consultants.
A normal person would likely view this direction as an attempt by @merrionstreet to bully Consultants into signing a type A contract even though there are other options.
— Jackie O’Connell (@JackieMeath) May 15, 2020