Saturday 20 October 2018

GPs and health officials to begin talks on crisis in general practice

GPs agree to negotiations with Department of Health on crisis in general practice. Stock Image
GPs agree to negotiations with Department of Health on crisis in general practice. Stock Image

Eilish O’Regan

GPs have agreed to enter intensive negotiations with the Department of Health on the crisis in general practice.

The crisis has meant that many GPs have had to close their doors to new patients due to workload and other doctors have been emigrating.

The GP Committee of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said today it  agreed to enter negotiations with the Department of Health.

On the table will the restoration of cuts in fees which were imposed on GPs treating medical card holders and carrying out other HSE work during the recession.

The doctors estimate around €120m is due back to them. They want an initial deal by the end of the year.

They will also be discussing a new contract which would see GPs expand the services they provide to patients with conditions like diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The committee has mandated a team to undertake the negotiations with the Department, led by Dr. Padraig McGarry, Chairman of the GP Committee.

A spokesman said :”The negotiations will focus on a sustainability programme for General Practice, new funding for new GP services and discussions on managing eligibility issues.

“The GP Committee met to consider the matter following initial talks with the Department which took place on Wednesday last.”

Dr McGarry said; “Our position is that any funding for sustainability must address the funding lost under FEMPI (recession) cuts. These talks will be challenging and it may be that some of what is being asked of GPs may not be viable.

This however will be a matter for negotiation and the Committee concluded that the proposals formed the basis for further discussions.”

He said that the current situation presents an opportunity to address the damage done to general practice through the austerity cuts. However, he warned that there would be significant challenges in reaching an agreement and these should not be underestimated.

The Budget announcement to give GP visit cards to 100,000 more people “ has made matters considerably more difficult and the IMO must secure guarantees around workload and resources.”

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