Response to announcement of Strategic Review of General Practice
“Deeply frustrating that Government has moved to dramatically increase demand on GP services before this review is completed”
Monday 3rd April 2023. The Irish Medical Organisation has welcomed the announcement by the Department of Health of a Strategic Review of General Practice.
However the IMO has said that it is “deeply frustrating” that the review will take place AFTER the Government has announced measures that will dramatically increase demands on GPs. The Government plans to add upwards of 500,000 to the number of people who will be entitled to use GP services free at the point of access. Such a policy if implemented in an unplanned way will dramatically increase the frequency of visits to GPs leading to delays, the creation of waiting lists for GP visits and the displacement of care for those patients who are the most unwell.
Speaking today, Dr. Denis McCauley, Chair of the GP Committee of the IMO said a Strategic Review is provided for in the 2019 IMO GP Agreement with the Department of Health and HSE. As provided for in that Agreement, the Strategic Review will be followed by a full Contract Review and any move that will lead to increasing demand on GP services should be dealt with in a planned way in that context.
He said: "Clearly the news of the review reflects an acknowledgement that there are significant issues around General Practice including capacity, access to out of hours services, and the suitability of the existing financial model underpinning the GP service. However it is deeply flawed that that it will take place after moves that will directly increase pressure on GPs across the country. We already have waiting times for GPs for routine appointments, most GPs have closed their lists to new patients as they are at capacity and this policy will only exacerbate an already challenging situation.”
He continued; “our view is that making GP services free for patients at the point of access can only be achieved on the basis of the capacity being there and we are well short of that capacity at present.”
Moving in advance of adding capacity will lead to –
- Waiting lists in general practice as demand for appointments exceeds capacity – there are already significant wait times for routine appointments
- Displacement of care for those who are sickest
- Unrelenting pressure on GPs and their staff
- While cost will not be a barrier – access will be
- Increased pressure on Out of Hours services that cannot be met