The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has expressed surprise at the lack of emphasis placed by the Fianna Fail/ Fine Gael document on the ongoing healthcare crisis with only two points addressing health.

The organisation has welcomed the inclusion of an agreement that health expenditure be based on a 5 year HSE service plan as a step in the right direction. However, the NAGP has cautioned that the 10-year plan, with consensus from all stakeholders, it has been calling for is required.

Dr. Emmet Kerin, Limerick GP and NAGP President, speaking about the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail document said, “We are surprised that so little emphasis has been placed by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail on the healthcare crisis. It is positive that the NAGP’s call for long term planning has been heard but it is imperative that health care in this country is separated from the political cycle. Therefore, we are reiterating our call for a ‘Tallaght Strategy’ for health with a 10-year consensus from all stakeholders”.

“In the last two weeks, we hosted three public meetings on our proposal to base health reform on a 10-year plan with a panel of expert speakers at each meeting. The speakers agreed unanimously that a properly resourced GP-led primary care system is crucial to addressing the issues in the healthcare system”.

Dr. Kerin concluded, “The focus needs to be on better patient care and service delivery. Such a negotiated consensus by all the parties for a 10-year plan would take politics out of health and finally put the patient first”.

The NAGP are calling for €500 million per year to be ring fenced for primary care for five years. Investment in a GP-led primary care could be achieved through legislative changes through a Transformation Fund. A study in the UK has shown that for every €1 spent on primary care, it saves €5 in the rest of the Health Service. The NAGP sees GP led Primary Care as the direction we need to go in health care reform and urges the Department of Health to engage in this process as supported by international evidence.