The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), has said comments made by Dr James Reilly, the former Minister for Health, calling for greater investment in the primary care sector is political grandstanding.

The doctor’s union said Dr Reilly must be held accountable for his huge failures in office, which have directly contributed to the current trolley crisis.

The NAGP is deeply upset over the inhumanity of having vulnerable adults and children waiting for long periods in emergency departments.

On RTÉ Radio’s Drivetime yesterday, Dr Reilly called for a “seismic shift to primary care” in his contribution to the debate about the trolley crisis. He makes such pronouncements on primary care, even though he singularly failed to deliver any such reform when he had the power to do so.

Dr Andy Jordan, Chairman of the National Association of GPs, said that “During Dr Reilly’s time, GPs were forced to endure savage cuts, which continue to affect the delivery of care to patients.”

“Primary care has been set back by at least a decade.”

“Funding for primary care and general practice was cut by 38%, putting an already under-resourced sector under further strain. The NAGP is still dealing with the fallout of Dr Reilly’s actions, so his latest remarks are hard to take,” Dr Jordan said.

Dr Jordan said many young GPs had left Ireland, seeing no future here and there is a recruitment crisis ahead.

He said that the increase in the number of people with medical cards, or GP visit cards and free GP care for those under sixes, as well as the over 70s has been introduced, with no corresponding funding.

He said agreement on a new GP contract with the Government is long overdue but those talks have been going on for over a year, with little or no progress.

“A lot of fine words are being spoken about implementing the SláinteCare Report and a shift to primary care. The NAGP has yet to see the required money and reform commitment from Government to back that up. So, the last thing the health service currently needs is a lecture and platitudes from a failed Health Minister”.

The NAGP represents the largest number of family doctors in the country.

Ironically, Dr Reilly’s actions led to the formation of this union.