Following the announcement yesterday from the Minister for Health that all carers in receipt of the carers allowance will be given GP visit cards, the NAGP has issued the following press release today:

13th December 2017 

Press Release: Minister promises 40,000 patients GP care that he cannot deliver

In response to the Health Ministers announcement yesterday, the National Association of General Practitioners welcomes supports for carers, who provide a vital function in our society. However, in this case, the Minister is making a promise that he knows he cannot deliver. In recent weeks, the Minister has recognised that there is no additional capacity in the GP sector, yet makes this promise despite assurances that there would not be any extensions to the existing 40 year old GMS contract.

Further, this decision was made by Minister Harris without consultation or agreement with the medical representative bodies. This flies in the face of a “collaborative” process and makes a mockery of the negotiations in relation to a new GMS contract. With an election expected in Spring 2018 this can only be seen as a populist move to win votes.

Minister Harris indicated last night on RTE that there will be an additional 40,000 qualifying patients under this scheme. The scheme is disingenuous, in that, it is offering a doctor visit card that does not carry with it the benefits such as medications, counselling, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, that this particular group need.

The Ministers announcement demonstrates a complete disconnect and lack of engagement with general practitioners and the deepening crisis in the sector. This comes at a time when general practice is already overwhelmed and under resourced. General practitioners are leaving the profession in large numbers, young GPs, in particular, are leaving Ireland in search of jobs that present a real work-life balance, something that is simply not realistic in Ireland in the current system. Without adequate resourcing this will add to the pressures of a system that is currently bursting at the seams and result in more GPs leaving and increased patient safety risk.

The NAGP now calls on Minister Harris to proactively move forward in GMS contract negotiations in a manner that suggests that he and the Department of Health are serious about providing properly resourced primary care services to the Irish people. This needs to be done as a matter of urgency to avert a full-blown healthcare crisis.

Media Enquiries: Brian Downes, 086-0244888,