Simon Harris has stated his intention to include the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) in GMS contract negotiations. Speaking to Bernie Commins, editor of the NAGP’s GP Ireland magazine, the Minister confirmed he intends to engage with the NAGP on a new GP contract. The Minister has since publicly confirmed this, as reported by Ms. Susan Mitchell, Health Editor of the Sunday Business Post today (Sunday).

Addressing the subject of GP contract negotiations, Minister Harris said, “I think it is absolutely essential that we have that new contract negotiated and I want to see the NAGP as a part of that……what I am doing is saying very clearly that when we get down to negotiating the GP contract, which I expect to happen by the end of the year, that the NAGP need to be in the room”.

Minister Harris spoke positively about previously engaging with the NAGP, “I had a really good meeting with the NAGP, it was very constructive. A lot of what they were saying and a lot of what I was saying were not dissimilar. There was a lot of similarities and overlap and I would like to develop that. But I think that it is important to have everyone in the room to begin with and the idea that you would have one group of GPs that you wouldn’t talk to or engage with is skewed”.

Mr. Chris Goodey, NAGP CEO, welcomed the Ministers commitment to engaging with the NAGP, “It is very welcome that Minister Harris will include the NAGP in GP contract negotiations. The NAGP has been strongly and consistently representing the interests of GPs since it’s revival in 2013. We look forward to engaging with the Minister and the Department of Health on a new contract that is fit for purpose”.

The Minister spoke about the role of GP-led primary care in his vision for the future of healthcare.

“There is no doubt that we have to move towards primary care, that has to mean more than just bricks and mortar. It has to mean that we are doing and providing more health services and that people going to acute hospitals today find themselves being able to access more medical care and more services in the communities. You can’t do this without GPs. While GPs have a major role to play, so do other healthcare professionals, the dentists, opticians, public health nurse, speech and language therapist, the pharmacist. It has to be multi-disciplinary but the GP has a major role to play, and in fact, does play a major role already”.

The full interview will appear in the September edition of GP Ireland which will be distributed to all GPs at the end of August.