20 Sept 2018

The National Association of General Practitioners welcomes the announcement by Fianna Fáil that it will prioritise FEMPI reversal for GPs as part of Budget negotiations with Fine Gael.

Today, Deputy Stephen Donnelly, Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Health confirmed that Fianna Fáil will prioritise the reversal of FEMPI for GPs as part of budget negotiations with Fine Gael.

FEMPI (Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) were introduced during the economic crash. The reversal of FEMPI cuts for public servants, including politicians has commenced, but General Practice has been excluded from this.

The financial cuts imposed on General Practice were the most severe imposed on any group. GPs sustained a 38% reduction in practice funding for the provision of General Practice services. These savage cuts have nearly destroyed General Practice in Ireland and have maximum impact on health services provided to our most vulnerable patients, the elderly, those with chronic disease, the disabled and children.

The reversal of FEMP is vital for the survival of General Practice. Today, 70% of practices are unable to take on new patients. Over 700 GPs are due to retire in the next four years. The majority of newly qualified GPs are choosing to emigrate as they do not see General Practice in Ireland as a viable option. There are currently 150 unfilled posts for GPs across the country, a situation which would have been unheard of ten years ago.

Dr Maitiu O’Tuathail, President of the NAGP, said: “It is reassuring to see that Deputy Donnelly understands the importance of reversing FEMPI for GPs. Interested and informed politicians are beginning to see that General Practice is collapsing and that if urgent action is not taken, the specialty will be lost forever. Deputy Donnelly must be commended for his foresight and understanding of this issue.

“It is vital that FEMPI is unconditionally reversed for GPs. It cannot be reversed in exchange for extra services or increased work. GPs do not have the capacity, the resources or the manpower to increase their workload any further.

“Any further extension of the current Doctor Visit Card scheme, in any guise, will be rejected by GPs. Any attempt to do this will be seen and denounced as a cynical political vote-grabbing ploy. Patients need access to GPs based on medical need, deprivation and income, not on their age or any other politically inspired largess.

The NAGP now demands the Minister for Health to set out a clear plan for the unconditional reversal of FEMPI for GPs. The Minister has paid much lip service to this and many other issues related to General Practice but his failure to deliver any of his promises or meet any of his timelines has become a national disgrace.

GPs need action now and will not accept any more empty Ministerial rhetoric.