Tuesday 24 October 2017

Unhappy doctors planning protest march on Dail

Leo Varadkar
Leo Varadkar
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Family doctors are planning to down their stethoscopes and march on the Dail for the first time in their history in protest at funding cuts which they say are putting patients at risk.

The GPs are proposing to hand in a petition to Health Minister Leo Varadkar calling for more investment in general practice in the wake of cuts to fees for treating medical card holders and other services in recent years.

The doctors are to be asked to give free GP visits to children under six and everyone over 70 from the beginning of next year - but the fees they will be paid have yet to be agreed.

Up to now doctors have tended to confine their protests to representation through their membership bodies and public statements, rather than taking to the streets.

It is unclear how large the turnout will be, but the hope is that several hundred will leave their surgeries and take to the streets for the public display of discontent on September 24.

The National Association of General Practitioners said it cannot call on any GP to join the march due to competition law, but it is expected to help in organising the demonstration and transport.

GPs have become increasingly vocal in the last year, with rising numbers with established practices opting to uproot and go abroad to earn a better living.

Meanwhile, the Labour Relations Commission has proposed a committee, chaired by heart surgeon Eilis McGovern, be set up to assess which newly-recruited consultants get higher starting salaries.

The group will also include two Irish Medical Organisation representatives.

Under new proposals recruits are entitled to starting pay of between €120,000 and €155,000. Doctors with experience could get up to €155,000.

The Labour Relations Commission said the committee could assess each doctor's claim and decide how much they should get on top of the basic €120,000.

If the doctor wants to challenge the salary they are offered they can appeal to the chief executive of the Labour Relations Commission, Kieran Mulvey.

The HSE is to begin a recruitment campaign to secure more new consultants for hospitals in a bid to reduce waiting lists.

Dr Gerard Crotty, president of the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, said the HSE's decision to begin advertising jobs, without agreement from doctors' bodies, had the potential to worsen the recruitment crisis.

Irish Independent

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