Doctors union says exclusion from GP contract talks is ‘Stalinist’

National Association of GPs excluded from negotiations on new contract

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said it was hard to see any basis for partnership with the NAGP at this time. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar said it was hard to see any basis for partnership with the NAGP at this time. Photograph: Colin Keegan/Collins

 

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has described Minister their exclusion from talks on the new GP contract as “Stalinist”.

The Irish Medical Organisation and the Department of Health are in negotiations on a contract that would see GPs provide free care to children under six.

On Friday the Department of Health and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) signed a memorandum of understanding providing for negotiations on a new overall contract between family doctors and the State.

The talks are at an advanced stage but the NAGP which represents 1200 GPs has been excluded.

The NGAP has urged its members not to sign up to any proposals for the provision of free care to under-sixes and described it as “misguided, inequitable and unworkable”.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar told the Sunday Business Post: “The Department remains willing to engage with the NAGP but given (the NAGP’s) stated position that government’s policy on extending GP care without fees is immoral, and their call for a boycott. It is hard to see any real basis for partnership at this time. For theses reasons a memorandum with the IMO has been signed.”

“Obviously we no longer live in a democratic society. In the Stalinist-style state we now live in, if you question Government policy, your views are silenced by any means possible,” said the organisation’s chief executive Chris Goodey.

“The Minister has come up with one sham reason after another to justify this discrimination against our members. He has finally admitted that the real reason we are being excluded is that we have refused to be bullied into accepted a policy that is driven by political need rather than the common good.”

There has been no agreement so far on the appropriate fee level for GPs providing care for children under six.

The new memorandum of understanding says any deal on free GP care for under-sixes would only be in place for an interim period – probably for just over a year – pending “the completion of the more extensive overall GP contract process”.

“In situations such as this, the classic approach of government is to divide and conquer. Ninety-five per cent of GPs want a united approach from the IMO and the NAGP. The NAGP believes that a cohesive strategy is essential to securing the best outcome for patients and general practice,” he said.