College of GPs withdraws from HSE clinical programmes in protest over fees

Government cut fees by 7.5 per on average

Earlier this month Minister for Health James Reilly announced  cuts in payments to GPs of about 7.5 per cent.

Earlier this month Minister for Health James Reilly announced cuts in payments to GPs of about 7.5 per cent.


The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), the professional body for family doctors, is to withdraw from Government programmes aimed at stramlining the management of many medical conditions in protest at new fee cuts.

It said it would withdraw its GP clinical leads from the HSE clinical care programmes with immediate effect.

ICGP chairwoman Dr Mary Sheehan said the college could “no longer tolerate a situation where it is expected to participate in programmes that seek to transfer workload to GPs while at the same time the Government is undermining GPs and stripping them of their resources with three rounds of cuts”.

“A properly resourced and supported primary care sector will save money and produce better health outcomes. Given the massive health budget over-runs, the ICGP is alarmed that the Government and the Minister appear to be overlooking the opinions of health economics experts by refusing to support GP.”

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.

The ICGP, which has around 3,500 members, is the representative body for GPs on issues such as education, training and standards in general practice. It has no role in negotiating terms and conditions for GPs.

The trade union representing GPs, the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is facing legal action being taken by the Competition Authority over i ts reaction to the introduction of the fee cuts.

Following an emergency meeting of GPs last week , 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 HSE.

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.

On Tuesday the Competition Authority said it had 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.

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.

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

The clinical care programmes were established by the HSE to streamline management of many medical conditions, such as mental health, diabetes and asthma. One of the aims of the programmes is to develop more effective shared care of patients between hospitals and GPs, particularly for chronic conditions. The working groups for these programmes include GPs, consultants, nurse-specialists and HSE representatives.