Irish Medical Organisation

IMO GP Committee seeks urgent meeting with Minister for Health

24th January 2013

At its monthly meeting last night the IMO GP committee castigated the proposed cuts of €70m, which the Minister for Health is currently considering.

Dr Ray Walley, IMO GP Committee; “This will decimate the capacity of general practice to the point where GPs will not be able to deliver on their existing service provision. The consequences of this are reduced availability of GPs, potential unprecedented GP waiting lists as well as reduced out of hours GP services.”

He said; “As a result there will be reduced access to services available locally in communities and an unacceptable need for patients to use depleted and expensive services in the hospital sector. The availability of house calls and other supports to nursing homes will be considerably reduced impacting on the most vulnerable patients. This approach is unfair and inequitable and could be avoided if the right approach is adapted.”

The GP committee is now looking at the range of options to recommend to members to mitigate the impact of these cuts. This includes looking at the issue of withdrawal from Primary Care Teams as the first step.

Dr. Walley said; “The shortage of resources suggest that it may become necessary to consider decreased out of hours services on the basis of the information to hand. While this may involve increased referral to hospital by ambulance this may be the safer option than to avail of a depleted service that is overly stretched. Depending on the approach to applying the cut it is likely other direct patient services may be cut.”

“Existing cuts had a devastating impact on the capacity to provide service. While many GPs have managed to maintain a service with minimal patient impact, any additional cuts will make this impossible and will inevitably involve a reduction in service. This will include the issue of accessibility and will likely result in waiting lists for GPs.”

“In the longer term the GP committee is concerned at the running down of the capacity of general practice in Ireland. While the lack of availability of locums is an issue of concern to GPs and their capacity to provide a service now, it points to a greater crisis where aspiring GPs are voting on Irish general practice with their feet. This does not bode well for the capacity to meet current patient demands let alone the other plans to manage chronic care or provide universal GP care free at the point of delivery,” said Dr. Walley.

The committee are also concerned with the increasing workload and consequent stress levels on an ageing GP workforce. Although we accept that some of this is a consequence of the modern economic environment, it is predominantly the result of continued poor health care planning.

The IMO GP Committee calls on the Minister for Health to engage with the IMO immediately and consider the proposals in our submission of 4 January 2013 to make equivalent savings with minimal impact on patients. This is in the interests of fair and equitable treatment of the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.

For further information contact:

Maria Murphy,

Director of Communications &

Public Affairs, IMO

Tel: 01 6767 273

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