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Shannondoc income increase despite fewer callouts queried

THE dramatic €850,000 increase in income from the General Medical Card Service (GMS) for an out-of-hours GP service, despite a much lower call volume, has been questioned by local health campaigners, writes Dan Danaher.

The 2020 audited financial statement for Shannondoc revealed the number of calls handled by the company fell by 12% from 112,273 in 2019 to 98,178 in 2020. It also shows income from the GMS increased from €1,050,607 in 2019 to €1,900,655 in 2020.

Overall income jumped from €7,306,717 in 2019 to €8,032,116 in 2020. This included income in 2020 from HSE Out-of-Hours €4,639,883; HSE Specimen Collection: €258,319; HSE SATU €49,275; HSE Methadone clinics and psychology services income: €176,297; HSE Other Income: €92,940; members’ contributions €654,433 and private patients’ income €154,384.

The company received more than 50% of its income in the year from state funding through the HSE.

According to the Shannondoc Reinstate Committee, for the past number of weeks Miltown Malbay has started to be manned again from 6pm – 11pm weekdays and 12pm to 12 am at weekends.
However, apart from these times, the group stated Ennis is the only other centre operating, as Shannon, Kilrush and Ennistymon remain closed.

A statement issued to The Clare Champion by Noeleen Moran and Deirdre Culligan of the Shannondoc Reinstate Committee, said Shannondoc received a grant of €5,216,713 to provide an out- of hours GP service to the people of the Midwest in 2020.

“Everyone knows that for the past number of years, despite much campaigning, the out-of-hours service provided by Shannondoc has been scaled back with centres in Kilrush, Ennistymon and Shannon closing.

“How is it possible in a year in which a pandemic began and a reduced service was provided to the public that Shannondoc managed to generate such profits? The annual accounts for 2020 show us call numbers were reduced from 112,273 in 2019 to 98,178 in 2020 yet the company records income of almost €850,000 of an increase on 2019. €1,900,655 was generated from General Medical Card Service income in 2020 up €850,000 on 2019 despite lower numbers of people presenting.”

“We certainly believe that the management of Shannondoc owe the public an explanation as to how this is possible?

They stated it has also come to their attention that Shannondoc are listed on the Revenue website as a company who have availed of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme in 2020, but this reference doesn’t appear to be recorded in the annual accounts.

“Shannondoc state twice in the report that because the company’s revenue arises primarily from a service level with the HSE it does not expect to experience a fall in revenue due to the pandemic.

“Why then avail of the scheme? The eligibility criteria clearly states to qualify for the scheme, a business must be experiencing ‘significant negative economic disruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic’.”

Meanwhile, Shannondoc’s surplus for the 2020 financial year after providing for depreciation and taxation amounted to €742,082 compared to €103,591 in 2019.

The company has assets of €1,972,551 compared to €884,383 in 2019 and has liabilities of €1,372,282 up from €1,026,196 in 2019. The net assets of the company have increased by €742,082.

In response, Shannondoc stated, “The directors’ report included in the 2020 accounts recalled in March 2020, the company introduced a range of contingency measures that ensured the service was maintained to patients in the Mid-West throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.”

According to the directors’ report, the directors are satisfied with the performance of the company during the year.

“The surplus for 2020 will be offset against the deficit brought forward from the prior years of €141,813. The remaining surplus will be reinvested back into the company to improve the level of service to all stakeholders including the patients, members GPs and the HSE to ensure sustainable development of the co-op.”

As disclosed in the financial statements for the year ended 31 December 2020; ShannonDoc achieved a surplus after providing for depreciation and taxation in the amount of €742,082 (2019 – €103,591).

“In 2020, the income earned by ShannonDoc for providing medical consultations to medical card holders under the GMS scheme increased significantly. The reason for the increase is due to the fact that during the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020, out of hours STC claims (GMS income) were stopped across the country. Instead funding was provided to General Practitioner Out of Hours Services to replace the GMS income shortfall. As a result, the member doctors were no longer able to claim the out of hours STC revenue. Instead ShannonDoc is in receipt of all GMS income. As a result of the change, payments to doctors also increased.”

“Additionally, ShannonDoc has achieved cost reductions and improvements in the efficiency of the operation while continuing to adapt to the challenges presented by Covid-19.

“Significantly this also contributed to the surpluses achieved in 2020. It is the policy of ShannonDoc to continuously improve the efficiency of the organisation and to reinvest the surpluses to continuously enhance the overall level of service to our patients, the HSE and member doctors.”

Regarding the TWSS, it said, “The company availed of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme for a small cohort of employees for a limited period in 2020. Net supports received under this scheme totalled €15,580. These were approved by the Revenue Commissioners.”

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