Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ceisteanna (242)

Catherine Murphy

Ceist:

242. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if doctors payments are confined to sworn members of An Garda Síochána; the cost in each of the past five years; if a cap is set for doctor visits; if so, the cap; the framework applied; the controls in place; the way in which the payments are made; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [46242/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, in accordance with Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 as amended, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for managing and controlling the administration and business of An Garda Síochána, including human resources and personnel matters.

I am informed by the Garda Commissioner that a new centralised Doctor's Payments Scheme came into operation on 1 January 2012. This scheme applies to serving members of An Garda Síochána only and does not apply to Garda Staff. The administration of the scheme is a matter for the Garda Commissioner rather than for me as Minister.

I am informed that under this Scheme, Garda members can attend a doctor from an established panel. Where a member visits a doctor from the panel they are not required to pay the doctor, but rather the doctor will be paid from a central fund. In order for the doctor to receive payment, the member must complete a certificate of medical attendance at the time of consultation which will be forwarded by the doctor, along with their invoice to An Garda Síochána. All doctors registered on the panel are paid by electronic fund transfer.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that members may still choose to attend any doctor they so wish, regardless of whether the doctor is registered on the panel of doctors. However in the case that members attend a doctor not on the panel, that member must pay the doctor directly for their consultation and subsequently claim reimbursement of the fee involved. Any monies claimed in this way are considered benefit in kind and are subject to both income tax and USSC charges.

For the Deputy's further information, I would add that the Garda authorities have informed me that only consultation fees are covered by the Scheme. Other costs including medicines, blood tests and so on are not covered by the Scheme.

The table below represents the cost of the Doctor's Payment Scheme for the years 2014 to 2018, as provided to me by the Garda Commissioner. I am informed that the details for 2019 have not yet been finalised.

Doctors Payment Fees 2014-2018

Year

Fees Paid

2014

€2,086,694.10

2015

€2,047,904.00

2016

€2,189,008.30

2017

€2,013,425.60

2018

€1,979,134.39

I have requested an An Garda Síochána to confirm the position in relation to the question raised by the Deputy in relation to caps and I will write to her directly on receipt of that information.

Question No. 243 answered with Question No. 238.