The National Association of General Practitioners has today expressed disappointment on the publication of the National Service Plan for 2018 by the HSE. The plan fails to address the key crisis issues that are crippling the healthcare system.

  1. Failure to address the general practice capacity issues

The HSE will not be introducing any measures to combat the capacity issues of general practice. With the sector currently at breaking point and getting worse, there is no commitment to introduce additional resources to relieve the crisis. Further, there will not be any additional efforts made to retain GP talent in Ireland which is currently experiencing the largest migration of GP’s in the history of the state due to the extremely difficult and toxic environment that has been created by the HSE, the Department of Health and successive Ministers for Health.

  1. Failure to deliver any meaningful reform in the transition from secondary to primary care

The need to transition from secondary to primary care has been spoken about ad nauseum by the HSE, yet action has not been forthcoming. Yet again in 2018 there will not be any positive move in the direction of the vision of the Slaintecare Report. In 2018 the government has committed just €25m to the development of primary care which will be spent on leases for new primary care centres and to support training, therapies and nursing. To make this transition there must be a real commitment made by the HSE and backing given by government.

  1. Failure to address waiting lists

Waiting lists are bigger now than they have ever been, yet, the National Service Plan makes no effort to address this crisis. There are currently in the region of 684,000 people waiting. This is a national embarrassment.

  1. Reinforcement of a three tier health system

The HSE will continue to expand on the GP visit card scheme which is effectively creating an apartheid like system of healthcare. They continue to do this despite the capacity crisis in general practice. The GP visit card is of minimal value to the holder as they will not have access to medications or further therapeutic interventions when required. It is the view of the NAGP that this scheme should be scrapped and converted to full medical cards once resources have been  put in place to address the capacity issue in general practice.

  1. GPs are tired of apologising to their patients for our failing healthcare system

It is a daily occurrence in GP surgeries across the country where doctors are apologising to their patients for the failures of our health system. Lengthy waiting lists frequently measured in years, no access to diagnostics, poor access to specialists, are among the main reasons for the apologies. NAGP Chairman Dr Andrew Jordan said, “It is both incredibly frustrating and deeply saddening that our system of healthcare has descended to this level. We, as GPs, are in an impossible position. We want to help our patients but we have system that is blocking us from doing that. It is our patients that are suffering and it is very unfair on them, many of them endure debilitating conditions for years before they can get the treatment they need.”

The NAGP believe that the 2018 plan will see the healthcare crisis deepen further, waiting lists get bigger, more trolleys on corridors and more suffering for sick people.