I wish to update you following Budget Day. On Tuesday, following the Budget, the National Council of the National Association of General Practitioners welcomed the announcement by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, T.D. that he has ring-fenced funding for a new GMS contract within the Health Budget for next year. At a press conference on Tuesday evening, Minister Harris, stated that he will begin negotiations with GP representative bodies by the end of the year.
The National Council is naturally concerned that there has been such a delay in providing GPs with a new contract. The National Council is especially concerned in light of the fact that it had been previously announced that negotiations for a new GMS Contract would commence no later than the 31st March 2015, and be completed within a 12 month time frame. GPs who signed the under sixes contract were informed prior to doing so that the contract was an ‘interim agreement’.
The delay and ongoing uncertainty has been frustrating, but we believe that the decision by the Minister to include the NAGP in the negotiations together with the announcement of the availability of funding for a new GMS Contract should be welcomed, and we are hopeful that these positive developments represent a new chapter in relations between the respective medical unions and the Department of Health.
GP-led Primary Care was central to the agreed programme for Government to address the challenges in the health care system. We have strongly welcomed the Government’s current position, particularly in light of the events between 2009 and 2015. The recognition by the Minister of the importance of General Practice is as a result of our joint efforts, and there is now a huge opportunity for General Practice to receive the resourcing that both patients and GPs need.
As we said on Tuesday evening, we are disappointed that GPs across the country who are currently under resourced and over stretched have received nothing to provide interim relief. It is now vital that a new contract is negotiated in as timely a fashion as possible. With this in mind the NAGP is making financial and organisational provision for negotiations to take place as expeditiously as possible.
We are continuing with our consultative process across the country with events taking place this weekend in both Sligo and Waterford.
If, you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact the National Office.
Dr. Andrew J. Jordan