Statement by IMO re Free GP Care Plans
The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that the basis on which free GP care will be introduced for all children under the age of 13 has not been agreed between the Government and the IMO and there are serious question marks about the viability of any such policy given the intense pressure already faced by GPs across the country.
The President of the IMO, Dr. Padraig McGarry, was responding to the announcement this (Sunday) morning that the Government has approved the extension of free GP care and increased access to medical cards for over 70s. Dr. McGarry said; “GP services are at breaking point both in our day time and out of hours services and without significant additional resources, it is simply not realistic to introduce policies to increase demands on a what is a very fragile service.”
Dr. McGarry warned the Government is not prioritising the real issues facing General Practice at the moment and are instead pursuing an electioneering strategy of offering what they call “free” services. “There are serious problems within General Practice, the recent agreement between the IMO and the Department is at the early stages of implementation and we must address what we can see are very significant problems in terms of the capacity within the service. We still have problems of practices being unable to take on new patients, serious problems in our out of hours service and any extension of cards must take these issues into account. ”
Dr. McGarry warned that while the IMO had agreed to engage in discussions with the Government on its plans for this policy area, these talks have yet to take place. He said: “it looks like the Government is prioritising an election promise over the strategic management of scarce health resources. When GPs read of promises like these being made, our hearts sink because we know that the service is already fragile and we despair that people who should know better don’t seem to care. Any talks on potential extensions to the service must take into account capacity and adequate resourcing.”