Government pursuing ‘nuclear option’ but NAGP will defend rights of GPs and patients

It is with great disappointment that the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has learned that the coalition Government has passed the proposed legislation for free GP care for all children under six. This is despite unanimous opposition from General Practitioners, particularly over the past number of months.

This dire situation has now escalated following today’s press report that GPs risk losing their existing under-six medical card patients if they fail to sign up to the Government’s plan to extend GP care to all under-sixes.

According to Chris Goodey, CEO of the National Association of General Practitioners, the NAGP are appalled by the Minister’s use of bully boy tactics:

“The use of bully boy tactics and efforts to coerce GPs into signing an unworkable contract beggars belief. Any attempt by the Government to alter existing legally binding contracts, without negotiation between the HSE and the NAGP, will be vigorously challenged within the court system. Make no mistake; the NAGP will defend the rights of GPs and their patients using all means available.”

“The NAGP continue to condemn the utter failure of Minister White to listen to the genuine concerns of GPs.”

GPs have arranged meetings all over the country with public representatives to highlight the catastrophic effect of current government policies on the one sector of the Irish health system that functioned effectively – general practice. These meetings were unprecedented in size and number, and demonstrated the huge concern of GPs with respect to current Department of Health policies.

These policies include:

  • The stripping of resources to general practice by over 38%
  • The advancement of “Free GP Care to Under Sixes” as a policy, despite opposition from GPs
  • The continuation with Universal Health Care policy, with free GP care for the entire population as its central objective, despite NO negotiations with GPs
  • The abuse of European Competition Law to silence GPs – effectively preventing GPs from having recourse to fully discuss issues affecting their profession at meetings of their unions
  • The misuse of Competition Law as a method for the government to unilaterally impose intolerable conditions on GPs
  • The misrepresentation of health statistics, particularly GP visitation rates and GP earnings, by Ministers Reilly and White

Irish GPs, as a reflection of their professionalism and vocational ethos, have provided chronic care pro bono /free to these patients, even as the population with medical cards has risen to 45% and the demands of patients rose with the times.

It is clear that the Department of Health is intent on following their misjudged and potentially dangerous policies. The NAGP takes the view that until the Under Six issue is withdrawn, and the Competition Law is amended by Government to allow full negotiations, any further diktats by Minister Reilly/White would be unproductive and futile.