As 2016 has now drawn to a close, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the year. Unfortunately, the crisis in General Practice and threat to the viability of the profession continues. There is no need to go into the detail here as we are all acutely aware of the issues. However, despite that harsh backdrop, I believe there are the positives in 2016. I believe there is a more cohesive approach forming to address these challenges.
The more positive point, in my view, is the change in political will. The current Minister of Health has openly recognised that lessons had to be learnt by the Government in how they handled the Under 6s contract. He has also stated that a new GP contract is beyond overdue. In this statement, the NAGP were formally recognised as being a part of that reform. This is welcomed considering the NAGP now represents in excess of 1800 members. I don’t wish to sound naïve but I am going to remain optimistic, for the moment, as only through engagement and representation can we address our fractured health care system.
During the course of the year, we ran a series of 17 clinical meetings and consulted members on the contract negotiations. Common themes ran through these meetings and we are very clear as to what needs to be in a new contract. I wish to thank the members and non-members who attended for their time and input.
I believe the first quarter of 2017 will be very telling as to the direction the NAGP will need to go in. We must, first and foremost, engage with the contract negotiations in an open and meaningful way. I am glad to say we are employing expertise in the contract negotiations to create a clear strategy to be best represent our members. Should the previous political rhetoric experienced over the years become evident, we will be decisive in our position and act as a union. I am hopeful that the stated political intent is honoured.
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a positive 2017 and look forward to working with you to restore functionality to General Practice. It is vital that members stay engaged and I welcome your feedback and direction in 2017.
Is mise le meas,
Dr Emmet Kerin