tHE HSE has warned family doctors not charge medical card patients for taking blood and fees that have been paid.
In a letter to Deputy Brian Stanley, the HSE say that GPs cannot charge for such so-called ‘phelebotomy’ tests. The executive’s Primary Care Reimbursment Service chief Mr Patrick Burke said that the taking of blood should be free when needed for diagnosis or to monitor a diagnosed condition.
The HSE said it is a GP’s contracted responsibility to provide proper and necessary treatment to eligible persons. The HSE has written to each GP with medical card patients. In the letter to the Sinn Féin TD the HSE also warn doctors not
“Any alleged instances of eligble patients being requested by a GP to pay for a routine service of this nature from their own limited resources is viewed as a serious matter by the HSE and will be investigated with potential consequences in relation to the GPs continued entitlement to renumeration and subsidies.
“Eligble patients who believe they have been inappropriately charged by GPs for routine phlebotomy services, as described above, are advised to seek a refund from the GPs in question,” said the letter sent in July.
While welcoming the response Dep Stanley claims that some GP’s are still charging medical card holders.
“I raised this matter earlier this year with the HSE and the issue was to be addressed at that time. Despite this I was recently contacted again by many patients who hold medical cards and who are still being charged for blood tests. Following my further representations with the HSE they have now clearly stated that this practice is not acceptable.
Dep Stanley said that the HSE views the charging of medical card holders for blood tests as a serious matter.
“It is not acceptable for GP’s who are being reimbursed by the HSE to also charge patients who are least able to pay for the service a second time. Eligible patients who believe they have been wrongly charged by GPs for blood tests are advised to seek a refund from the GP in question. They can also contact me at my office in Church St., Portlaoise if they are not satisfied with the outcome,” he said.
The HSE wrote to Deputy Stanley on foto of what it said were “complaints raised received from constituents about GPs charging for the provision of phelbotomy servies at the Cedar Clinic in Portlaoise”.
The HSE said it has also communicated the position to the Irish Medical Organisation which represents GPs.