GPs warn they will consider injunction over new contract

Members of IMO claim Government proposals will have ‘serious impact’ on patient care

8/11/2013   - NEWS - Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO launching the Rescource GP Campaign,  seeking a 5 fold increase in the portion of the health budget spend on General Practice.Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

8/11/2013 - NEWS - Dr. Ray Walley, Chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO launching the Rescource GP Campaign, seeking a 5 fold increase in the portion of the health budget spend on General Practice.Photograph: Alan Betson / THE IRISH TIMES

 

General practitioners have warned they will consider seeking an injunction to prevent the Department of Health introducing changes to their contracts without negotiation.

The Government has proposed introducing the changes as part of the move to introducing free GP care for children under the age of six.

But the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) said the draft contract presented to doctors “would make the Department and the HSE an invisible third party at consultations between doctors and their patients”.

GPs claim the contract will have a “serious impact” on patient care and the delivery of care to all patients, and not just children under six.

It would also prevent doctors from criticising errors made by the HSE or the Department of Health, chairman of the committee Dr Ray Walley said.

He said the draft contract was “repugnant” and “a threat to the privacy of the doctor/patient relationship”.

Speaking at an IMO press conference in Dublin, Dr Walley said it was clear the draft contract had “little to do with the provision of care for under 6s but [WAS]more about the HSE trying to take control of general practice”, which would be bad for patients.

Minister of State for Health Alex White held talks with the IMO, the Irish College of General Practitioners and the National Association of General Practitioners at the end of last month and presented them with the draft contract for the provision of free GP care for children under six.

Today the IMO said the amendments to the contract included “fundamental variations and modifications to the doctor visit-only card contract, which was negotiated between the Department and the IMO in 2005.

It was seeking to replace the GMS contract without negotiation. The amendments would, amongst other things, give the HSE “unprecedented access” to otherwise confidential patient information, it claimed.

Dr Walley said that the HSE record of involvement in other sectors of the health services was “abysmal” and it was illogical for the body to be given a greater role in the running of GP services, which had “to date provided excellent services despite continuous cuts from Government”.

“The HSE has done nothing to earn the trust of the Irish public. I dread the consequences of extending their influence into GP sector which has proved incredibly successful as it is,” he said.

The proposed new contract would also exacerbate a crisis in GP resourcing, on top of a withdrawal of €160 million from GP services over the past few years.

The representative body and its GP members called for “real negotiations” so that a complete review of the GMS and publicly funded contracts could be undertaken.

The IMO said it would consider seeking an injunction “to prevent the Department introducing these changes without the agreement of the IMO which is the trade union and holder of a negotiating licence for GPs”.

“The proposals are obviously amendments of existing contract negotiated between the Government and the IMO and there are clear procedures which must be honoured by both sides before any such changes can be introduced,” it said.