Irish Medical Organisation

IMO Responds to today’s Government decision on Free GP Cards for Under 6s.

 “Government plans to introduce Free GP Visit Cards for Children by middle of year is unachievable”

Wednesday 16th April 2014. The Irish Medical Organisation has said the Government objective of introducing free GP services to all children under six by the middle of the year is “unachievable”. Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO, was speaking after it was confirmed that the Government had approved the text of the relevant legislation (Health (General Practitioners Service) Bill 2014).

Speaking today, Dr. Walley said that it was contemptuous of the Government to approve the legislation without having entered detailed discussions on the implications of that legislation with the IMO. He said; “The Government knows full well the anger of the GP community at the contract proposals which were issued in advance of the legislation. At this time we have yet to see the details but remain extremely sceptical as to the sustainability of these proposals, particularly given the level of resources that have been allocated to this policy shift, which were predetermined before the legislation was even published. GPs have made it very clear they will not be forced to sign a contract that has not been negotiated and which will fundamentally undermine the doctor patient relationship.”

Dr. Walley said that the Government was approaching the issue of GP services with the “subtlety of a bull in a china-shop”. He said “The Minister has belatedly sought a meeting with the IMO to discuss how a talks process might work. We maintain our position that we are entitled to negotiate on behalf of our GP members and will consider this latest proposal from the Minister. However, we wish to make clear that this would not be a negotiating meeting about the contract rather a meeting to discuss how real negotiations can take place.”

Dr. Walley said that the IMO would continue to defend its right as a registered Trade Union to negotiate on behalf of GPs as they have done for every other public contract involving GPs for the last 30 years; “As a Labour Minister in particular should know, negotiation is a right but it is also a positive thing. If the Government had sat down with us in recent months we could have worked with them to help them implement their plans. Unfortunately their refusal to engage meaningfully with us leaves them with an unrealisable timetable for the introduction of GP Care to children under 6”

Finally Dr Walley said the IMO are pleased that the Minister will attend a National GP Meeting to take place at our AGM on 26th April – it is time for Government to listen to those who have to deliver the care.

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