In reaction to Budget 2018, the GP union say GPs will now consider some form of industrial action

GPs have said that the Government has failed to address the escalating crisis in General Practice

NAGP warned that if General Practice fails this winter, the hospital system will implode

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has reacted strongly to news that there will be no meaningful resourcing of General Practice in Budget 2018. The GP union is now considering some form of industrial action as they say General Practice, as it is currently funded by the state, is unsustainable. The NAGP warned that if General Practice fails this winter, the hospital system will implode. The NAGP said the Budget announcement was contradictory to the political rhetoric of a move to GP-led Primary Care. The Budget makes no progress towards achieving this objective.

Dr Andrew Jordan, NAGP Chairman and GP in Dublin, called on the Government to put in place a transformational fund of €500 million to make a decisive shift to GP-led Primary Care, “The Government have stuck their heads in the sand and ignored our calls for reversal of FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) in General Practice. The service is beyond capacity and requires urgent investment. All stakeholders agree that a cornerstone of healthcare reform in Ireland must be a move to more community-based care. This requires resourcing”.

€25 million funding for General Practice was announced in the Budget for 2018 which the NAGP say does not even begin to address the current crisis in capacity. Patients with medical and GP Visit cards have increased to almost half the population in recent years with the introduction of the under 6’s and over 70’s free GP care.

Dr Jordan said, “In our pre-budget submission we called for funding for additional Practice Nurses in order to resource more care for patients in the community. This would enable general practice to provide more preventive, predictive and anticipatory care to patients in the community. Vulnerable cohorts including the frail elderly would benefit most from this rationalisation of healthcare delivery. Once again, community based care has suffered in favour of the more expensive hospital-based system”.

Funding in General Practice was cut by up to 38% under FEMPI. The Government has not considered reversing the cuts despite similar programmes being in place for public sector workers. The union has said that FEMPI is a key factor in the high emigration of GPs as the profession is now unviable in Ireland.

Dr. Jordan, said, “GPs have suffered disproportionate cuts under FEMPI and continue to work under a contract that is no longer fit-for-purpose. The impact of these cuts is being felt by patients as pressure on GPs increase waiting times for an appointment. We can no longer accept the inaction of Government and must take a stand on behalf of our patients”.