Wednesday 21 March 2018

GPs to withdraw from range of services over cuts


Eilish O’Regan Health Correspondent

THOUSANDS of patients are to feel the brunt of protest action by angry family doctors who are to withdraw from a range of services due to cuts in their State fees.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is to urge its GP members to step down from participating in primary care teams, which would see them no longer hold face to face meetings with other neighbouring health professionals - such as public health nurses - to discuss a patient.

They are also to withdraw from community intervention teams, an initiative which allows for suitable patients to be discharged early from hospital and receive nursing care for the first 72 hours as well as a check by their GP.

The doctors are also to step down from chronic disease programmes where they take some of the workload from hospitals to look after patients with long-terms conditions such as diabetes.

The motions were passed by the GP committee of the IMO which met in emergency session on Monday to discuss the cuts in medical card and vaccination fees which will see them lose out on over €30m in payments over the course of a year.

The committee  has expressed grave concern that these cuts will have a direct impact on the range of services which individual GPs are able to provide to their patients and will, ultimately, lead to greater costs for the health service as a result of increased demand on secondary or community care budgets,” said Dr chairman Dr Ray Walley.

The services they withdraw from are not part of their medical card contract and they doctors have agreed to participate in them on a voluntary basis. It means their action will not result in financial penalties.

He said that while” GPs remain committed to the provision of a high quality service under the medical card contract any additional services which patients may require (and which previously might have been provided by the GP) will now cease.

“ In particular GPs will refer all pro bono work which is not covered by the  medical card contractmost appropriately resourced service.”

He added:”This latest round of cuts will have a massive detrimental impact on patient services.  Our members are committed to doing all they can on behalf of their patients but faced with these continuous cuts, GPs will now have to focus on working to their contracts and having other services referred for attention to their nearest hospital.  This is not good for patients or the health services.  This latest move by Government further undermines general practice  and will ultimately lead to higher costs.”

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