IMO receives detailed legal clarifications on key concerns about Under 6 Contract
Monday 25th May 2015. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has received assurances on a number of key issues relating to the proposed contract under which children under the age of six will receive free GP care.
Dr. Padraig McGarry, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, also confirmed that the HSE has agreed that GPs have until 5th June to return contracts as the patient registration system goes live in early June. Additionally, it has been confirmed that there will be NO reassignment of existing under 6 GMS patients during the summer period.
Dr. McGarry said that the clarifications and assurances received from the HSE addressed many of the concerns that GP have raised in recent weeks; “we have listened very carefully to GPs across the country and when they have raised concerns, we have gone back to the HSE and sought clarification. I believe these clarifications will reassure GPs about key aspects of the contract.”
Dr. McGarry said that the IMO had sought legal advice on some of the issues raised and submitted that advice to the HSE for its review. The HSE has now written to the IMO to confirm that it agrees with the IMO’s legal advice and that the advice may be regarded as “contractually binding and may be relied upon by Under 6 contract holders and the IMO.”
Dr. McGarry said that the clarifications and assurances cover key areas raised by GPs in recent weeks. He said; “the concerns raised by GPs have been comprehensively dealt with through this clarification process. Whether the concerns were about fees, contract hours, implications for Data Protection or costs that might be incurred when hiring locums, the HSE has confirmed that our interpretation is correct. On all the contentious issues raised, the answers will reassure GPs.”
These reassurances include:
- The HSE/Department of Health has confirmed that the Minister cannot set new fees for GP services without having regard to the Framework Agreement. The Framework Agreement sets down a process for negotiation between the IMO, Department of Health and HSE.
- The HSE/Department of Health has confirmed that the new contract does NOT alter the status of GPs in respect of Data Protection. Specifically the HSE has agreed that the current position of GPs as Data Controllers (not Data Processors) is unchanged under the new contract.
- The HSE/Department of Health has confirmed that the new contract does NOT introduce material changes to the practices governing the acceptance and transfer provisions regarding patients on the GMS scheme.
- The HSE/Department of Health has confirmed that any new GMS contract will be a stand-alone contract negotiated between the HSE and the IMO and that the under 6 contract will not be a template for that new contract.
- The HSE/Department of Health has confirmed that the Under 6 Contract is intended as an interim contract only and a review built in at the latest by 1st August next year.
- The HSE/Department of Health confirms that Primary Care Teams are beyond the scope of this Under 6 Contract.
- The HSE/Department of Health confirms that it will NOT impose any additional diagnostic services or pilot schemes without consultation with the IMO and agreement with individual GPs.
- In the same vein, the HSE/Department of Health confirms that any new ICT initiatives (eg e-Health and management information initiatives) must be agreed with individual GPs prior to their introduction.
- The HSE/Department of Health confirms that the working week provisions under the Under 6 Contract are the same as under the current GMS Contract.
- The HSE/Department of Health has confirmed that GPs may carry out period assessments on child patients aged 2 and 5 opportunistically and not at the exact ages being reached.
- The HSE/Department of Health has also confirmed the IMO’s advice in respect of issues including Termination and Suspension, Periodic Assessments and Out of Hours payments.
- The HSE/Department of Health have confirmed that only those doctors who are on the Specialist Register can take up the Under 6 Contract