'People may die' with new plan, GPs say
Outraged family doctors have expressed anger and shock at a new GP contract handed to them by Health Minister for Acute Care Alex White.
Patients could die, the National Association of General Practitioners warned, unless there was proper planning and resourcing.
Three groups representing the GPs had separate meetings with the minister yesterday, believing the agenda was the Government plan to introduce free GP services for all children under the age of six.
"Instead we were handed a completely new contract, covering this and all other aspects of general practice and asked to come back with comments by February 21," said an Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) spokesperson. "This is unprecedented.
"The current GP contract was negotiated after lengthy discussions in 2005. This has just been handed to us without any negotiation.
"It represents a fundamental change in terms of service for GPs who are being expected to provide a whole new range of services without any significant resources, it is just impossible."
Minister White said the introduction of free GP care for those under six was "just the first step" in a bigger picture.
"We need to listen to doctors," he added. We've had a very useful and constructive day. We want people's views on it (the contract) and they will be taken very seriously."
The IMO spokesperson described it as the "most profound change in GP services for decades".
"The contract covers everything," they said. It is completely unrealistic to expect GPs to be able to do all this with current resources."
Dr Ray Walley, chairman of the GP committee of the IMO added: "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."
Chris Goodey, CEO of the National Association of General Practitioners said it was his "big fear" that "without proper planning, this is a dangerous process and people possibly might die".