In May 2000, the Department of Health commenced making payments in respect of development and maintenance costs for the MyGP.ie website, which had been provided for under the Indicative Drugs Target Scheme (IDTS) and was being operated by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO).
Following the establishment of the HSE, operational responsibility for payments in respect of the website transferred to the Executive under the Health Act 2004. Payments in respect of the website were suspended at this time and the HSE and IMO engaged on issues of mutual concern regarding the website. Both parties agree to review issues through non-binding mediation and this lead to the matter being resolved. The HSE was satisfied with the outcome of the mediation and the resolution of the matter. However, in resolving outstanding issues, both parties entered into an agreement that contains a confidentiality clause.
The Department understands that the HSE has taken legal advice regarding this matter and the confidentiality clause that forms part of that agreement unambiguously restrains the HSE from releasing information relating to this issue. If the HSE breached the terms of the clause, it could be in breach of contract and susceptible to High Court litigation for (a) breach of contract and/or (b) breach of confidence.
The Department also understands that the HSE has recently written to the IMO on two occasions asking it to agree, as a matter of urgency, to the confidentiality restrictions being lifted for the purposes of an FOI request relating to this issue. However, to date, the IMO has not agreed to this.
A Review of Governance and Accountability Mechanisms in the General Medical Services Scheme for and on behalf of the Department of Health (& Children) was published in 2005 and is available on the Department's website at the following link: http://www.dohc.ie/publications/gms_review.html.