Absence of GP representation on Emergency Department Taskforce undermines Health Minister’s statement that primary care is crucial to solving the emergency department crisis

The National Association of General Practitioners welcomes the Minister for Health’s comments yesterday that general practice is a key factor to solving the emergency department crisis.

However, the organisation is deeply disappointed to learn that general practice is not represented on the Emergency Department Taskforce and has formally requested that the NAGP be immediately included in the Taskforce membership.

Speaking on the Marian Finucane Show yesterday (Jan 11), Minister Leo Varadkar said that investment in primary care and social care services is a key factor in the long-term plan to resolving the long-running ED overcrowding issue.

The Minister said that the traditional approach to ED overcrowding has been “to open more wards and hire more staff, and not dealing with the actual core problem”.

“This time, if we’re going to get this right, we need to approach it differently,” Minister Varadkar said, “and that involves, not more investment in hospitals and emergency departments, but more investment in primary care and social care.”

NAGP CEO, Chris Goodey said: “The Minister’s comments mirror the NAGP’s view that the solution to emergency department overcrowding, to a large extent, lies outside the hospital. By providing general practice with the necessary resources, many ED attendances could be avoided in the first place.”

“It is essential that GPs are immediately included in the Taskforce deliberations so that low-cost community-based initiatives can be examined and put in place for the benefit of patients and our health care system as a whole.

“There is a myriad of international evidence to show that general practice-focused initiatives such as direct imaging access and admission processes, can reduce the numbers attending emergency departments and other hospital services. General practice must be part of any plan to resolve the ED situation and to do that, GPs must be included in the creation of that plan,” Mr Goodey said.

The NAGP, which represents 1,200 GPs nationally, has written to the Minister for Health and Director General of the HSE requesting that the organisation be included in the Taskforce before the group’s next meeting which is due to take place within the week.

ENDS

For further information or to arrange an interview, contact Andrew Mernagh, Lotus PR on 087-2911028 or andrew@lotuspr.ie