Irish Medical Organisation

IMO warns that Free GP Visit Card for carers can not proceed without negotiations and adequate resources

Wednesday 13th December 2017. The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has expressed disappointment at an announcement by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris TD, of plans to extend Free GP Visit Cards to Carers without any negotiation with GPs who will have to deal with the increased demand.

The IMO has advised the Department of Health that this measure will require negotiation and adequate resources for General Practice in order for these patients to be cared for appropriately.  This is not an issue about Carers, who we acknowledge are very deserving of a whole range of supports.  This is an issue about transforming and developing General Practice so as to deliver real change in a planned and coordinated manner, not just giving out GP cards as tokens to patients in a vote buying exercise.

Dr. Padraig McGarry, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO said that the Government was using GP services as a token “give away” to demonstrate good intentions rather than a potentially transformative part of the health services infrastructure; “GP services are in crisis and it is going to be very challenging to deliver a meaningful service to what are a deserving group of patients and we must be sure that whatever is promised to these patients is capable of being delivered.   In light of the current underinvestment and capacity problems in General Practice the Government still chooses to increase demand for services through meaningless inadequately funded initiatives such as this rather than deal with the growing crisis in GP services.” 

Dr. McGarry also queried the purpose of the GP negotiating process currently underway “The IMO, in good faith, has been in negotiations with the Department of Health and the HSE on the delivery and implementation of a range of new services in General Practice for patients but unfortunately this kind of announcement simply undermines that process. This is no way to plan for transformation and the delivery of a service that patients deserve and that GPs can deliver if resourced.”

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