There will be no new overall contract for the provision of general practitioner (GP) services negotiated with the Government this year, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has signalled.
The doctors’ trade union also said it was not in talks with the Government about extending the number of people covered by a free GP care scheme. It said this was “not a priority” for the IMO.
A new GP contract is a key goal for the Government. However, the IMO indicated on Friday that a new deal would only be implemented on a phased basis.
The IMO suggested that for each phase of implementation funding would have to be put in place first, and that the removal of cuts imposed under financial emergency legislation over recent years would be key to any successful negotiation of a new accord.
The IMO told members on Friday that “there can be no new initiatives without new and significant funding.
“We also wish to advise members that we are not in negotiations on the introduction of any new cohorts of patients into the GMS (general medical services), while we note the Government intentions in regard to the expansion of GP care, the IMO position is that this is not a priority and is simply not possible in the current funding and capacity environment.”
The IMO said that negotiations with the Department of Health over recent months had "focused on what will be the first phase of a new contractual arrangement with GPs".
It said that among the key areas on which the parties had been engaging were: the removal of cuts under financial emergency legislation, chronic disease management, capacity measures, and IT support for GPs.
“We can only move on to further phases as agreement is reached and resources are in place for phase one,” it said.