An unprecedented number of GPs turned out at a meeting in Cork last night (February 17, 2014) to highlight their “grave concerns” about patient safety under the proposed new GP contract.

The meetingfebruary-billy-kelleher, which was organised and chaired by Cork GP, Dr Una Barry, in response to the new under-sixes contract proposed by Minister White and Minister Reilly, attracted almost 10% of the country’s GPs.

The Chief Executive of the National Association of General Practitioners, Chris Goodey said the level of attendance at this meeting was unprecedented.

“I have been involved in organising meetings like this for 20 years and I have never seen anything like this. We were expecting about 120 GPs, but there was standing room only from 8pm and more than 100 GPs stood for two hours to listen to presentations and participate in the debate,” he said.

Mr Goodey said the NAGP would be rolling out similar meetings all over the country. “We need to let the politicians know that this new contract is both unworkable and unsafe,” he stated.

Speaking at the meeting, Dr Barry said the GPs needed to make the politicians aware that they were gravely concerned about patient safety.”

Addressed tfebruary-jerry-buttimerhe seven members of the Oireachtas present at the meeting she stated: “Please take this message back to your colleagues – I am telling you now patient lives are at risk. Do we need to see a patient die for you to react to what we are telling you? You didn’t listen when you were forewarned in Portlaoise, I implore you to listen to us now.”
Politicians were left in no doubt yesterday as to whether or not GPs would sign the new draft contract for the under-sixes. “Treat the sick, not the under-sixes” was the unanimous message of the evening.

There was resounding unity from the 250 GPs present as it became clear that they all believed the new contract was unworkable.

Deputy Billy Kelleher, Cork TD and spokesperson on health for Fianna Fail said the contract was so onerous he believed that no GP could sign it and he suggested that this could have been the Government’s intention all along.

He commented: “If they are unable to implement the universal free GP care for everybody, the Government will need a scapegoat and the fact that the GP’s are unable to sign this contract for under-sixes in its current form would allow Minister Reilly and Minister White to blame already stretched General Practitioners (for its failure).”

Deputy Gerry Buttimer, Fine Gael TD said, “I am very happy to have attended this meeting. I understand the frustration of GPs as I have met numerous GPs privately from around Ireland and discussed issues concerning the future of general practice and primary care. I have heard the views expressed here tonight, and I will be reflecting on them, and passing them back to Government.

Chris Goodey added that the level of anger over the proposed contract, the current crisis in general practice and the loss of resources from general practice over the last five years due to FEMPI cuts had galvanised GPs – resulting in the huge number of doctors attending the meeting.“The Minister has to realise he cannot impose a contract on GPs who are almost 100% against it,” he concluded.