IMO GPs meet with Fine Gael Health Committee to discuss crisis in GP services
€160 million in cuts to GP services over past five years now causing real damage to service delivery
Warns that Government has “no credible plan for introduction of free GP care for all by 2016”
IMO – “GPs want to do more to help patients but need enhanced resources”
Wednesday 22nd January 2014 The Irish Medical Organisation has met with the Fine Gael Health Committee to brief them on what the IMO has described as a “crisis in GP services” and to discuss with them the Government’s controversial plans to extend GP Visit Cards to all citizens by 2016. The meeting took place last evening (Tues).
Speaking after the meeting, Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO warned that GP services were at breaking point following the withdrawal of a total of €160 million in resources over the past 5 years.
Dr. Walley outlined in particular how the cutbacks were resulting in:
• A shortage of GPs in rural and disadvantaged areas
• Growing waiting lists for GP visits across the country
• The curtailment of un-contracted services previously provided free-of-charge by many GPs
• Inability to extend GP services on current financial model
Dr. Walley said that the IMO was very positive about the potential of general practice to revolutionise the delivery of primary health care services; “Our message to Fine Gael is that we are want to do more for our patients and more to alleviate pressures on health services but we need enhanced resources to be able to do so. That’s the key message in our #resourcegp campaign. We want the politicians to help us to do more for our patients.”
Dr. Walley said that he would be telling the Committee that the Government had “no credible plans” for the extension of GP Cards to all citizens by 2016 as is currently the Government’s intention. He said; “Extending GP cards to all citizens is a massive and fundamental change to healthcare policy. It would have dramatic impacts on all aspects of the health service and cause unprecedented dislocation in current services. We believe that while the objective may be desirable, it is simply foolish to consider such a change within anything less than a 10 year timescale. If the Government press ahead with their plans to implement this by 2016, they should know now that it is simply unachievable.”
The IMO team also briefed the Fine Gael Committee on the consequences of the Government’s failure to engage with the IMO over the GMS contract. The last GMS negotiation between the IMO and the HSE/Department of Health was in 2005. Dr. Walley said that the absence of proper engagement since then as led to a stagnation of development in general practice and has frustrated any development of new services for patients.”