Irish Medical Organisation

Budget Cuts in General Practice will end capacity to introduce Universal GP Care - Warn IMO

General Practice is at breaking point and the imposition of further cuts, on top of recent severe cuts, in the level of financial support for GP services, threatens to destroy the fabric of the Irish General Practice System, warned IMO GP Committee members today [9th January 2013]

Addressing Department of Health officials at an oral submission on the Review of the Operation under the Financial Emergency Measures {FEMPI] in the Public Interest Act 2009, IMO GP Chairman, Dr. Ray Walley said;

“Decisions taken today may well herald the introduction of waiting lists for patients for the first time in Ireland and the unavailability of GP services in certain parts of the country.  Indeed some of these effects are already being seen with increased attendance at GP out-of-hours services.”

He added that “Further cuts in payments to GPs will mark the end of any capacity to introduce Universal GP Care in Ireland in the foreseeable future.”

Dr. Walley said; “It is clear that cuts in the order of €70 million are being contemplated, which are in addition to cumulative cuts in payments to GPs already introduced in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  Additional cuts of this nature will devastate general practice and will, in turn, have adverse effects on the most vulnerable patients who are dependent on the services of their GP.”

The IMO emphasised that unless general practice is protected waiting lists are inevitable.  General Practice will lose the capacity to meet the needs of patients and this will lead to significantly increased referrals to other services which are already under pressure. GPs believe the greatest impact of any cuts will be the frail, the elderly, mentally impaired, children and those with literacy problems. They also believe that attracting GPs to rural and disadvantaged areas is now a critical issue.

In the long term further cuts at this point will do irreparable damage to our hopes of being able to provide cost effective chronic care management and will virtually guarantee that universal GP care will not be possible for at least five years.

Dr. Walley said; “There is another way to meet the strict budgetary limits imposed by the State’s funders in a proportionate and fair manner.  The challenge is to look at new and innovative ways of maximising our resources and using them in a way that meets patient needs and provides greater value for money.”

“The IMO has considered these issues and believes it can help to achieve these aims,” said Dr. Walley.

IMO GP Committee Members will present their Submission to Officials in the Department of Health, Hawkins House Today, Wednesday, 09 January 2013 at 3.00 p.m. 

For media Interviews please contact:

Maria Murphy,

Director of Communications &

Public Affairs, IMO

Tel: 01 6767 273

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