GPs warn free care for under sixes by summer is ‘not achieveable’

IMO says Government must start again and negotiate with doctors on proposal

The IMO has  described the change of tactics by the Government as a ‘retrograde step’.

The IMO has described the change of tactics by the Government as a ‘retrograde step’.


The Government’s plan to introduce free GP care for children under age six from this summer is “not achievable” given the lack of progress to date, the Irish Medical Organisation has said.

The chairman of the IMO’s GP committee Dr Ray Walley blamed the Department of Health and the HSE for the lack of movement on the plan by presenting their proposals as a “fait accompli” rather than seeking to engage in meaningful negotiations with it on behalf of its GP members.

“The current situation is that the Minister for Health James Reilly and the Minister for Primary Care Alex White are seeking to impose an unworkable contract by diktat on GPs in circumstances where there are no real negotiations. It is unbelievable that, in the current environment GPs have been presented with a draft contract that effectively stops whistleblowing and now we are advised that legislation is being rushed through that will allow both the Minister for Health and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform to set fees unilaterally and vary those fees as they see fit.

“The IMO asserts its right as a trade union with a negotiating licence to represent GPs in these matters and the Ministers are well aware that there are no obstacles to such negotiations. The timing of these events is all the more surprising given these very issues are before the courts and due to be heard in a matter of weeks”.

Dr Walley said since the inception of the GMS in the 1970s negotiations between Government and the IMO in respect of GP services had always delivered better services to patients and value for money to the State.

He described the change of tactics by the Government as a retrograde step.

Dr Walley said there had been widespread negative reaction to the Government’s draft contract for the provision of GP care for children under six and that the Minister for Health and the Minister for Primary Care should now start again by engaging in meaningful negotiations with the IMO.

He said the Government had alienated the very people who it depended on to provide the proposed care to young children.

“It is amateur politics and had led to a situation where there is zero progress. Our GP members are appalled at the manner in which the Ministers are behaving and they have expressed grave concern about the ability of this Government to deliver upon political promises.

“The development of general practice is key to a better health service, it is time to talk to those who deliver it. The IMO are calling on Minister Reilly and Minister White to cease the practice of threatening GPs with legislation and immediately commence real negotiations.”