Statement by Irish Medical Organisation following meeting with Dept of Health and HSE on plans for Doctor-Only Visit Cards for Children under 6
“We have no confidence that the promises made to patients by Government can be realised”
“Need for meaningful negotiations on a “fundamental change to the operation of GP services”
Friday 31st January 2014. Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO has called on the Government to immediately commence real and meaningful negotiations with the IMO on its plans to introduce Doctor Only Visit Cards for all children under the age of 6 this year. Dr. Walley said that the move represented a fundamental change to the operation of GP services which will have serious impact on GPs across the country. Dr Walley said “What is happening here is nothing more than an imposition by Government of terms and conditions on doctors and this does not happen in Government dealings with any other sector.
Dr. Walley was speaking after attending a meeting today between the Department of Health / HSE and the IMO on this issue. He added “The IMO and GPs want a properly resourced GP service that is free at the point of access and is capable of delivering safe care to patients. What we have heard today has given us no confidence that promises made to patients by Government can be realised. This so-called consultative process is flawed as there are simply no meaningful negotiations and we have asked the Minister to commence full and meaningful negotiations.”
Ms. Shirley Coulter, Assistant Director of Industrial Relations at the IMO, said that the proposed introduction of these cards represented a clear and substantial change to the existing GMS and Doctor Only Visit Contracts which governs the work undertaken by GPs with public patients. Ms. Coulter said; “while we accept the right of Government to make policy, there are well established contractual rights which require negotiating with the IMO to ensure that such policy can be delivered by GPs as the service providers. Unfortunately the Government seems to believe it can introduce contractual change by diktat. If health reforms are to succeed we need planning, resources, negotiation and realistic timelines.”
Dr. Walley said that the core IMO objective was to ensure that the country’s GP services were properly resourced for the onerous tasks they face; “In respect of this issue, the Government has prioritised spin over substance. They may succeed in impressing the electorate in the short term by pushing through this policy change but if the introduction of this change is mishandled, it will prove a pyrrhic victory indeed.”