NAGP Pre-Budget submission calls on Government to properly resource General Practice
The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) launched our Pre-Budget submission earlier today (Tuesday, September 10th, 2013) calling on the Government to build and resource general practice rather than threaten the very viability of many local GPs.
Our submission, which was launched at the Royal College of Physicians, warns Government that the health of citizens will be damaged further if the programme of austerity continues to be forced on struggling GPs.
Payments down 33% per patient
The document states: “Since 2008, there has been an overall cut in gross current expenditure on health by 10%. Over the same period, fees and practice supports to GPs have fallen. With the new FEMPI cuts, payments are down by 33% per patient.
“This is at a time when the number of patients with full medical card coverage is up a massive 37% and functions normally carried out in a hospital setting are being transferred to general practice without consultation or appropriate resourcing.”
Practices at risk of closure
As our submission points out, the result is that many GP practices are now running at unsustainable levels of net income after meeting unavoidable practice costs. We estimate as many as eight per cent of GP practices are under financial risk of closure.
For those who survive, there is a clinical quality and safety limit to the number of patients an individual GP and the practice can look after. There is a real risk of excessively short consultation times and the implementation of waiting lists to see a GP.
“We believe a properly resourced healthcare system at a local level is vital, not only to realise the healthcare strategy outlined in the Programme for Government, but to ensure the GP network in Ireland does not collapse under the strain of continuous cutbacks,” our submission explains.
The NAGP has five specific policy proposals for the upcoming budget to ensure healthcare at a local level can meet the needs of our nation:
1. The immediate reversal of the 2013 FEMPI cut which is having a detrimental effect on general practice and ultimately on the health of the Irish people.
2. Structured engagement with the NAGP and others on policy to develop and resource general practice in the run-up to, and as part of, the introduction of free GP care.
3. The commencing of focused negotiations on a new GP contract that enables the delivery of comprehensive, modern general practice and free GP care, removing the precondition that a new contract will cut funding again.
4. The immediate engagement with GPs on the implementation issues for a policy of free GP care for children under five, because any new policy cannot be successfully implemented without proper engagement with the only people who can provide the service – the GPs.
5. The setting of a goal to achieve the best international standard for over-65s flu vaccination. A new, adequately funded and measured programme this winter will mean that older people are better protected, and costly hospitalisations avoided.