Tuesday 6 December 2016

Letters: Doctors' income cuts to stall progress on free GP care

Published 07/08/2014 | 02:30

Health Minister Leo Varadkar pictured at Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke
Health Minister Leo Varadkar pictured at Leinster House. Photo: Tom Burke

GPs nationally welcome Leo Varadkar's plans to defer Universal Health Insurance. As talks about it progress it is appearing more and more like the US healthcare system, where up to 30pc of all healthcare costs are swallowed up by insurance companies in administration costs, legal fees and profit-taking - with no regard to the cost-effectiveness of the service.

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However, I am surprised that the new minister considers free GP care an option in the near future. He is obviously not aware of the current problems caused by the advantage taken of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act by his two predecessors.

Between 2002 and the 2013 FEMPI/Haddington Road reduction, the average state funding per HSE employee had risen by 50pc due to increments for time in service, grade inflation and extraordinarily generous pensions; the consumer price index has increased by 24pc, but the payments to general practice per General Medical Service patient were lower in 2013 than they were in 2002.

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