Irish Medical Organisation

IMO secures Department of Health commitment to commence substantive talks on new GP Contract

• IMO secures commitment from Department of Health to commence substantive talks on a new GP Contract in addition to discussions on Under 6s

• IMO aims to agree “a modern contract for a modern GP service that is properly resourced”

• Issues for discussion includes how Universal GP Care will be rolled out

Wednesday 17th September 2014. The IMO GP Committee has secured a commitment from the Department of Health and the HSE to commence substantive talks on a new GP Contract to replace the forty year old GMS contract.

The aim of the IMO is to ensure:

• General Practice is adequately resourced and sustainable

• General Practice is supported in developing capacity to take on additional services for patients and deliver treatment in a safe environment

• General Practice is properly and coherently developed with the emphasis on medical evidence when rolling out universal GP care

Speaking today Dr Ray Walley, Chair of the IMO GP Committee said that “The agreement to commence formal discussions on a complete new GP Contract is critical to sustaining and developing General Practice in Ireland. We need a modern contract for a modern General Practice service for our patients and for our members.” He said; “A new GP Contract is badly needed and after eight years of no discussions and successive years of draconian cuts we need to ensure that the General Practice is firstly stabilised then developed. The current system of General Practice is starved of resources. Our patients are suffering. Our GP members are under intolerable pressure with more and more emigrating and the crisis in General Practice is directly leading to pressures on the hospital system where it is much more expensive to treat patients. It is not simply a question of transferring resources from one part of the health system to another – the whole system is suffering from inadequate funding and patients are not being treated properly. GPs can do more, we have said it for years, but only with proper resources.”

Dr. Walley said that the IMO would be demanding increased resources and sustainable funding for General Practice. He said “General Practice has been effectively starved of resources with disproportionate cuts to the service of over €160 million in recent years. The GMS Contract is outdated and does not reflect the complexity and workload of modern General Practice.”

He continued; “As GPs we want to develop a new contract that will deliver 21st century care and realise the true potential of General Practice to deliver a wide range of quality services to patients. At the moment we simply cannot do that as the service is under resourced and unable to cope with additional workload. We urgently need to stabilise the existing service and plan in a coherent way for the introduction of Universal GP Care. The delivery of GP services to the whole of the population is something we as GPs can wholeheartedly support but only if it is done in an agreed, planned way with adequate budget allocations year on year. Unrealistic timeframes, inadequate resources and political promises are a recipe for disaster.”

Dr. Walley said that the future of General Practice depended on a dedicated plan, dedicated and ring-fenced budgets and realistic goals that are based on medical evidence.

Dr Walley reiterated the IMO’s opposition to the roll out of GP Care on an age cohort basis. While the Government has set policy for Under 6s we are strongly of the view that any further extension must be on the grounds of income and medical need. “This is the fairest way to deliver care. It would be great if there was the capacity or resources to do it all in one fell swoop but that is not the reality of the situation. The best way to tackle inequalities in health is to introduce GP Care on an income and chronic disease basis in an planned way over a number of years. A parallel process has commenced with talks continuing on the Under 6s and the first talks for the new GP Contract are scheduled for October. “

The IMO intend to conduct a detailed and comprehensive consultation process with members over the coming months on a new GP Contract..

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