Irish Medical Organisation

HSE failure to fund cancer care services in general practice leaves patients carrying the costs - IMO

18th June 2013. General Practitioners in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) have expressed deep concerns regarding a follow up care plan by the HSE National Cancer Care Programme (NCCP) for women patients who have undergone treatment for breast cancer.

Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the IMO GP Committee said; The HSE are failing to fund or invest in Cancer Care services in General Practice thereby passing all costs onto patients including Medical Card patients.  Patients need to be aware that this decision taken by the HSE means patients will carry the cost of their Cancer Care.  This is wholly unacceptable.”

He said; “While the IMO welcomes in principal plans to transfer secondary care workload to general practice, the method by which the NCCP have gone about implementing it falls short of ensuring it is being done in a planned manner with the provision of appropriate resources and funding to ensure equitable availability of care nationwide.  This, he said, can only happen through discussions and agreement with IMO as the representative body for GPs.”

He said; “We have informed the NCCP that it is both surprising and unacceptable that no formal discussions have been sought with the IMO and instead a unilateral instruction has issued from the NCCP to individual GPs by way of correspondence.” 

“The IMO believes there are significant patient care and safety implications as the responsibilities placed on GPs by the guidance document will have major resource implications.  For such a service to work properly a General Practitioner will have to establish an effective screening service appointment with protected time and access to a chaperone.” 

He said; “In the absence of appropriate planning and the required resources GPs may not be in a position to provide appropriate follow up care with potentially serious implications for patient care.”

Dr. Walley said; “While we acknowledge that the NCCP has examined the clinical evidence and safety issues it is the formalisation of this ad hoc approach into a national policy that is of concern to the IMO.”

He said; “Over the last 4 years, 124 million euro has been removed from the General Practice GMS budget.  Funding of General Practice for a 24/7 contract is at an historic low of just 2% of the overall Health Budget.  As such GPs are indicating to the IMO that they will be unable to accept the transfer of the chronic care needs of these patients without an appropriate contract and resource transfer.” 

“There is no contractual requirement on GPs to provide this service and general practice is already struggling to maintain existing levels of service with reducing resources and increasing demands.”

Dr Walley said; “The IMO is requesting an urgent meeting with the NCCP to ensure that the care of this vulnerable cohort of patients is protected and we urge the Department of Health to engage in an appropriate manner on this issue as we cannot recommend our members to accept these proposals.”

For further information contact:

Maria Murphy, Director of Communications & Public Affairs, IMO Tel 01 6767 273


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