There is no provision under the GMS GP contract for persons who hold a medical card or GP visit card to be charged for routine phlebotomy services provided by their GP which are required to either assist in the diagnosis of illness or the treatment of a condition. This has been advised to GPs by the HSE.
The issue of GPs charging GMS patients for phlebotomy services is complex given the numerous reasons and circumstances under which blood tests are taken. My Department and the HSE discussed this issue previously with the relevant GP representative body. However, it did not prove possible to achieve agreement that no charges for blood tests would be applied in any circumstances. It is intended to raise this issue again at an appropriate time.
It should be noted that the GP chronic disease management programme which is being phased in, having commenced last year, will involve the ongoing monitoring of patients’ condition and any blood tests required in this context will be covered by the fees payable for this care.
The position remains that where a patient who holds a medical card or GP visit card believes he or she has been incorrectly charged for routine phlebotomy services by his or her GP, then that patient should report the matter to their HSE Local Health Office. The local management, upon being notified of potential inappropriate charging of GMS patients, carry out an investigation into each complaint and will, where appropriate, arrange for a refund of charges incorrectly applied by the GP.
Consultation fees charged by GPs outside the terms of the GMS contracts are a matter of private contract between the clinicians and their patients. The HSE does not have any role in relation to such fees.