The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has called on the state’s 2,300 GPs to refuse to sign any contract regarding the Government’s proposed scheme of free GP care for under-6s.

The NAGP has issued a recommendation to member and non-members GPs not to sign any contract which requires the provision of free GP care to under-6s.

According to the NAGP, GPs have an ethical and moral responsibility to prevent the introduction of a scheme which will only serve to increase the abhorrent inequities in our health service.

Section 49.1 of the Medical Councils Ethical Guidelines states that doctors have a duty to act in the best interest of patients and promote the provision of appropriate healthcare resources. Section 49.2 adds that doctors have a duty to assist in the efficient and effective use of resources and to advice on their appropriate allocation.

“With hundreds of patients on trolleys in our emergency departments every day and medical cards being removed from or denied to cancer patients, it is morally reprehensible to invest scarce public funds into providing free care to any group of people who do not have a genuine medical or financial need,” the NAGP believes.

“Every one of us has scores, if not hundreds, of patients on dangerously long waiting lists. We all have patients who have been denied a medical card or had their medical card withdrawn despite real medical need. In our capital, a north-side Dubliner will die 7 years earlier than his south-side neighbour and yet the south side has one GP for every 1,600 people while the north side has one GP for every 3,000. It is our honest belief that rural and deprived inner city practice will effectively cease within the next five to 10 years. To fuel such inequality and injustices should be a cause of shame to the Minister for Health,” according to Dr Michael McConville, Cavan GP and a member of the NAGP’s National Council.

“Doctors have repeatedly called for an end to the two-tier health system which has been allowed to endure in this country. The NAGP has continually urged the Minister for Health to postpone the introduction of the under-6s scheme and to invest instead in resolving the very serious issues being experienced by gravely ill and vulnerable patients. Our pleas have fallen on deaf ears and the Minister has summarily prohibited us from contributing to the consultation process on the under-6’s scheme. It is astonishing to us that, in a functioning democracy, the Government of the day believes the views of 1,200 GPs can be blithely ignored. In the interest of our patients and our duty as doctors, we have been left with no alternative but to recommend on a point of principle that GPs refuse to sign any contract providing free care to under-6s” Dr McConville said.