Governance issues see ‘valued members’ quit GP group

NAGP president says doctors concerned over free trips abroad and use of €168,000 fund

 Dr Dan Crowley (left), a member of the  National Association of General Practitioners’ council, with  the organisation’s president Dr Emmet Kerin. Photograph: Jim Coughlan.

Dr Dan Crowley (left), a member of the National Association of General Practitioners’ council, with the organisation’s president Dr Emmet Kerin. Photograph: Jim Coughlan.

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A number of valued members have quit the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) due to concerns over internal governance issues, the group’s president has said.

Emmet Kerin told the NAGP’s annual conference in Cork that the issues included the financial viability of the organisation, its links with a company which facilitates patients to access care abroad, and the use of a €168,000 fighting fund collected from members.

Dr Kerin confirmed that some NAGP members had been funded by a company called MSC Eurocare to visit hospitals overseas which provided treatment to Irish patients under the European cross-border directive.

He said the delegation had their flights and accommodation paid for by the company but did not receive fees. He said the NAGP council had taken a decision to “champion” the directive to help patients on long waiting lists secure treatment. He said the NAGP’s relationship with the firm was about giving advice on hospitals that it felt were appropriate for patients to attend.

Dr Kerin also said €168,000 had been collected in a “whip around” some time ago in relation to a dispute with the Competition Authority. He said it was hoped the drive would raise €1 million.

Free care

He said the organisation had spent €220,000 in a number of areas, with most of it going towards a legal challenge brought against the contract put forward by the Government to introduce free GP care for children aged under six.

Given the number of people who signed up to the contract, that case was no longer viable and the organisation had to stop it, he said.

Dr Kerin also told the conference that new accounts to be published on Saturday would show the organisation was solvent.

NAGP chief executive Chris Goodey said the association would show a small surplus. He said auditors had recommended making provision of €35,000 for bad debts.

The NAGP told members in recent weeks that at the end of December it was owed €174,000 from members. He said the organisation billed members on a rolling basis and that this amount had now decreased.

He said that six NAGP council members had indicated that they would not be standing again. He said the organisation’s leadership had gone through all the issues of concern raised by a number of individuals some weeks ago at a special meeting and a majority on its council were satisfied with what they heard and its processes.

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