Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Responds to Minister's Comments On Universal GP Care

Tuesday 9th September 2014. GPs in the IMO have warned that were "major" issues to be overcome in relation to any proposals to introduce GP Care to the total population.

Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO was responding to comments on the issue by the new Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar TD, made this morning (RTE Morning Ireland) "We must as a society seriously consider how GP Care which is free at the point of access can be equitably and safely delivered to all. Our stated position remains that lower income groups should be targeted in the first instance with room for medical need to be considered."

Dr. Walley welcomed the Minister's willingness to continue to engage with the IMO on how these services could be introduced but warned against creating expectations that the services might be available soon; "the Minister is being very realistic and very engaging in his dialogue with us and we welcome that. However General Practice has been starved of resources and is effectively on life support as it is so we are really concerned that the infrastructure is just too weak to try to force additional services and demands on it. And we remain very concerned that scarce resources would be directed to patients on the basis of age rather than medical need so there are serious issues to be addressed not just about free GP visits for children but the broader challenges facing General Practice. "

Dr Walley added "Resources to General Practice have been cut year on year which has led to a service which is unsustainable and a crisis in GP manpower with more and more of our younger and older GPs opting to practice outside of Ireland. GPs around the country want reform but any reform and increase in services must be properly resourced, otherwise it cannot deliver for patients. What is critical is that we get the right service for the future and that will take time, planning and resources."

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