GPs and vaccination
A chara, – EP Cusack writes of “incredulity and disbelief” at the funding of general practice for providing Covid-19 vaccination in the community (Letters, January 21st).
There are lots of reasons to express incredulity around the funding and economics of primary care or, more specifically, general practice in Ireland. Despite long-standing and systemic underfunding and unreversed financial emergency measures in the public interest (Fempi) cuts, the vast majority of acute and chronic disease management, preventive healthcare and mental healthcare is provided by general practitioners in the community. Clear and consistent evidence shows that for every €1 invested in primary care, approximately €10 to €13 is saved in downstream costs.
While there is some variation in figures annually, compared to our nearest neighbours, in the UK, funding of general practice as a proportion of overall healthcare spend is approximately 4 per cent in Ireland against 8 per cent in the UK. Consistent evidence from validated studies shows that access and continuity of care compare favourably in Ireland versus the UK.
While access across the healthcare system remains an issue, approximately 58 per cent of patients are able to avail of same-day access to their general practitioner of choice in Ireland versus approximately 15 per cent in the UK.
Your correspondent insinuates that funding of general practitioners diverts funding from more deserving groups, such as student nurses. While there is no doubt that there is shameful exploitation and undervaluing of many of our colleagues within the health service, a more considered and reasonable analysis would suggest that general practice provides exceptional levels of service, with modest funding, particularly when compared to the fragmented, management and administration heavy HSE and Department of Health.
Fomenting and agitating division and envy among frontline healthcare providers is a naive and unhelpful response, which will only lead to further unrest and dissatisfaction and lower morale within a healthcare service which should value teamwork, synergy, efficiency and cost-effective patient-centred care.
Despite your correspondent’s reservations and disbelief, there is clear evidence that general practice in Ireland provides this and remains an undervalued and underappreciated part of the health service. – Is mise,
DAVID LARKIN, MICGP
Sir, – I note that “GPs and pharmacists are to be paid €60 for each two-vaccine shot” (News, January 20th), while in the UK the comparable figure is £25!
Even allowing for a conversion rate of £1 to €1.13, the difference seems enormous.
Is it any wonder the projected cost is over €90 million! – Yours, etc,