GPs reject Government proposals to link reversal of fee cuts to contract reforms

Simon Harris to brief Cabinet on plans for reforms to general practice this week

Minister for Health Simon Harris says he will be briefing the Cabinet in the coming days and that talks with GPs should be under way again in a matter of weeks.  Photograph: Photocall Ireland 

Minister for Health Simon Harris says he will be briefing the Cabinet in the coming days and that talks with GPs should be under way again in a matter of weeks. Photograph: Photocall Ireland 

 

General practitioners have rejected proposals by the Government that would see the reversal of financial cuts imposed on them following the economic crash linked to improving services and contract reforms.

In a statement issued at its annual conference in Cork at the weekend, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) said it was resolute that the abolition of cuts imposed under financial emergency legislation – known as Fempi – should take place immediately and should not be linked to doctors taking on additional work.

The Irish Medical Organisation had previously indicated that any such Government proposals would not be acceptable.

A dispute over negotiating or implementing a new contract for GPs could have serious implications for the Government’s overall health reform strategy which involves more services being carried out in future in the community.

In an address to the NAGP conference on Friday night the Minister of State at the Department of Health, Jim Daly, said: “Consultations with GPs aimed at putting in place a new multi-annual approach to fees, commencing in 2019, in return for service improvement and contractual reform and in line with Government priorities for the health service will begin in a number of weeks.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris said in a statement he would be briefing the Cabinet in the coming days and that talks with GPs were expected to get under way again in a matter of weeks.

Additional work

The NAGP warned that linking the reversal of Fempi to new conditions of service was not open for negotiation.

The new president of the association, Dr Maitiú O’Tuathail, told the conference on Saturday the Government could not continue to treat general practice as it had done in the past by imposing additional work without consultation and making changes without discussions.

The association warned that given the crisis facing general practice, patients could in the future face lengthy waiting times to see a family doctor.

The association said it had more than 2,000 members with about 60 delegates attending its two-day conference in Cork.

The conference also heard that the HSE should have designated facilities for the treatment of dangerous patients.

Dangerous patients

NAGP chairman Dr Andy Jordan said it was not acceptable to have dangerous patients in medical surgeries.

The association’s chief executive, Chris Goodey, said: “Dangerous patients with drug, alcohol and mental health challenges who have been removed from one GP’s practice are being assigned to another practice without any consultation with the GP and without providing the patient’s history.”

The conference also heard that “a number of valued members” had left the organisation in recent times due to concerns over internal governance issues.

Outgoing NAGP president Dr Emmet Kerin said the issues included the financial viability of the organisation, its links with a company that facilitates patients to access care abroad, and the use of a €168,000 fighting fund collected from members.