Competition Authority goes to High Court over GPs’ service withdrawal

Authority had set a deadline of midday on Monday for the IMO to publish an undertaking to reverse its planned action

GP members of the Irish Medical Organisation plan to withdraw from certain services in protest at new fee cuts

GP members of the Irish Medical Organisation plan to withdraw from certain services in protest at new fee cuts

Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 01:01


The Competition Authority has begun legal action against the Irish Medical Organisation over plans by its GP members to withdraw from certain services in protest at new fee cuts.

The Competition Authority had set a deadline of midday on Monday for the IMO to publish an undertaking to reverse its planned action.

However, it said that following the expiry of this deadline, it had received correspondence from the IMO’s solicitors saying the doctors’ trade union would not be complying with the request.

In response, the authority filed papers in the High Court seeking a declaration the IMO’s withdrawal of services in response to the fee cuts is prohibited by Irish and European law.


Interlocutory injunction
It is also seeking an interlocutory injunction requiring the IMO to retract and rescind its decision, and ordering it not to issue any further decisions with a similar effect.

The Competition Authority said a hearing of its interlocutory application was expected to take place within the next week.

Earlier this month, Minister for Health James Reilly announced further cuts in payments to GPs of about 7.5 per cent on average under financial emergency legislation.

Following an emergency meeting, the IMO said its members would withdraw from primary care teams, community intervention teams and clinical care programmes for chronic diseases. It also said it would pull out of any work not covered under the terms of their contract with the Health Service Executive.

The Competition Authority later wrote to the IMO and warned that, in its view, its response to the fee cuts was a breach of competition law.

GPs operating the medical card and other State schemes are not employees of the health service but rather are independent contractors.