Irish Medical Organisation

IMO GPs say that Government target for introduction of Free GP Visits for Under-6’s this summer is “not achievable”

Introducing legislation in this way is alienating GPs

Monday 31st March 2014: The GP Committee of the IMO has said that the Government's plans to introduce Free GP Visits for Children under six years of age this summer are “not achievable” given the lack of progress on the issue since the measure was first announced.

Speaking today Dr Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO said that the Government must now acknowledge that it is time to talk to GPs in a meaningful way. “The current situation is that the Minister for Health and the Minister for Primary Care are seeking to impose an unworkable contract by diktat on GPs in circumstances where there are no real negotiations. It is unbelievable that, in the current environment GPs have been presented with a draft contract that effectively stops whistleblowing and now we are advised that legislation is being rushed through that will allow both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to set fees unilaterally and vary those fees as they see fit. The IMO asserts its right as a Trade Union with a negotiating licence to represent GPs in these matters and the Ministers are well aware that there are no obstacles to such negotiations. The timing of these events is all the more surprising given these very issues are before the Courts and due to be heard in a matter of weeks”.

Since the inception of the GMS in the 1970s negotiations between Government and the IMO in respect of GP services has always delivered better services to patients and value for money to the State and the Minister for Health is well aware of the benefits for all in this entirely legitimate approach to delivering public health services. The result of the change of tactics by Government in the way it is seeking to do business is a retrograde step.

Dr Walley said; “there has been widespread negative reaction to government proposals on the Draft Contract for Under 6s. The Ministers for Health and Primary Care must now start again by engaging in meaningful negotiations with the IMO on behalf of GPs. What GPs want for their patients is a new GMS Contract that will deliver care to all citizens with adequate resources to ensure quality care can be delivered in a safe, sustainable and effective way.”

He said the blame for the lack of progress lay with the Department of Health and the HSE who had presented their plans to the IMO as a “fait accompli” rather than seeking to engage in meaningful negotiations with the IMO on behalf of its GP members. Dr. Walley said; “ The result has been that the Minister has alienated the very people who he depends on to provide the care. Its amateur politics and had led to a situation where there is zero progress. Our GP members are appalled at the manner in which the Ministers are behaving and they have expressed grave concern about the ability of this Government to deliver upon political promises. The development of General Practice is key to a better health service; it is time to talk to those who deliver it. The IMO are calling on Minister Reilly and Minister White to cease the practice of threatening GPs with legislation and immediately commence real negotiations.”


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