Sunday 23 September 2018

Your Budget: 'There is a sameness for GPs about this Budget'


Richard Brennan

Kilkenny GP Dr Richard Brennan
Kilkenny GP Dr Richard Brennan

DR Richard Brennan is disappointed there was no recognition of the difficulties facing general practices, particularly rural ones, in Budget 2018.

Dr Brennan's rural practice in Ballyhale and Stoneyford, Co Kilkenny, cares for about 1,300 medical card patients and covers an area of 320 square kilometres.

Dr Brennan (63) says he has an ever-increasing workload and finds it difficult to get locum cover for holidays, family events and in the case of illness.

"There is no signal of intent to either invest in general practice or in primary care and I think the lack of investment into Sláinte Care raises difficulties for everybody around what exactly is the direction healthcare is going to take in Ireland in the future," he said.

He says the continued investment in hospitals meant that these, with all their inefficiencies, would continue to attract serious amounts of money, which was not a long-term, sustainable option.

"From the patient's perspective, there are some minor adjustments on the prescription charges that will benefit them but I would like to see firmer details on how child and adult mental health services funding will translate into improved services," he said.

"And this is a critical area, that the health of our young people remains seriously disadvantaged," he added.

Fempi cuts (38pc), USC at self-employed rates, together with ever-increasing practice expenses, have affected the financial viabilty of his practice and restricted the opportunity to invest in patient services and facilities.

He said these pressures had affected all practice staff, not just doctors, and made any forward business planning impossible.

"Getting people to succeed where doctors are trying to retire is causing critical stress and concern to people," he said.

"There's endless conversation about a new GP contract but no actual commitment to funding," Dr Brennan added.

He said there was a "sameness" about this Budget, a little tinkering of the benefits to patients but very little to help bring about the long-term sustainability of general practice and primary care in Ireland.

Irish Independent

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