The HSE has been forced to remove from its website details of state payments to thousands of dentists.
This follows the Data Protection Commissioner threatening enforcement action against the HSE unless payment details covering billions of euro to individual dentists through the medical card system were removed from the website.
Nicola Coogan, a senior compliance officer with the commissioner, told the HSE it was a serious issue and that it was the intention of the office to take whatever enforcement steps it deemed necessary if the PCRS payments for dentists were not removed.
In response, the HSE has not only removed details of payments to dentists, but to other health professionals contracted to the HSE, including GPs, pharmacists, and ophthalmologists.
The threatened action by the Data Protection Commissioner followed a complaint from the chief executive of the Irish Dental Association Fintan Hourihan, who argued that there was no statutory basis or public interest justification for the publication of the payments.
In a letter released through the Freedom of Information Act, Mr Hourihan wrote to the HSE that his members “are concerned that they have not given consent” to the publication.
A HSE spokeswoman confirmed that it no longer publishes payments to primary care contractors on its website. She said: “The HSE will continue to meets its obligation under the Freedom of Information Acts.”
Mr Hourihan said the Irish Dental Union welcomed the HSE decision to cease publication of the payments.
He said the publication of payments “presented a misleading impression when viewed in isolation and suggested dentists were earning inflated levels of income when in fact the payments were to cover the cost for treatments already dispensed”.
He said: “The HSE also failed to consider whether the publication on a single freely consultable website updated by name relating to all of the beneficiaries concerned went beyond what is necessary for achieving the HSE’s legitimate aims.”
Via The Irish Examiner