Govt Plans For Free GP Care Are 'Doomed' - IMO

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned the Government that its plans to introduce free GP care are doomed to failure unless there are full negotiations with GPs on all aspects of the Contract so as to ensure there are proper resources to deliver care for patients.

Dr Ray Walley, Chair of the IMO GP Committee said: "GPs cannot be asked to put patient safety at risk by being required to deliver services without adequate resources."

The IMO has said that the insistence by Minister Alex White on ruling out negotiations on resources effectively ruled out negotiations on everything. Dr Ray Walley said: "The IMO is a registered Trade Union and is the only body to hold a Negotiating Licence on behalf of doctors in General Practice. We have negotiated countless agreements and contracts with the Government on behalf of GPs which have delivered quality care to patients and value for money to the State, yet now this Labour Minister is saying that he will not negotiate with us about resources and the fees our members should receive for what is the most fundamental change in the delivery of GP services to patients."

The IMO has written to the Minister to state that "a negotiation which addresses the scope and content of the [proposed under six] contract without addressing what GPs are to be paid for delivering the services is impossible and meaningless. It is not apparent to the IMO how the process of discussing what GPs are to do under the new contract, and what they are paid for what they are to do, can be severed. One necessarily informs and conditions the other."

The IMO restated that its support for the Government policy of introducing free GP care at point of access was entirely subject to the Government providing adequate resources for the delivery of such services and full and meaningful negotiations with the IMO as the trade union and holder of a negotiating licence on behalf of its GP members.

It is matter of serious concern to the IMO that the €37m allocated in the Budget for the Under 6 GP Service is now, according to media reports, to be spread throughout primary care. Primary Care services will not be able to function effectively without a properly resourced GP service. There are currently 24 million consultations in General Practice and 95% of these consultations are dealt with by GPs without any referral to other services, GPs are treating 400,000 additional patients in a time when resources have been cut by E160m. If the Government is serious about delivering on healthcare policy it is critical that the Minister does not seek to dismantle a service that is working and replace it with a GP service that cannot be delivered within the resources allocated, will put patient safety at risk and will not be capable of delivering in any sustainable manner.


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