The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) are providing support to the position taken by the four hospital Chief Executives who have pointed out that it is not possible to reduce funding to hospitals and general practice and simultaneously maintain services and patient safety.

The hospital administrators have pointed out that their funding has been cut by 20% since 2009. Simple logic dictates that the Minister for Health, the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive cannot expect the people of Ireland to believe that patient safety and hospital services can be maintained when additional pressure is being placed on hospitals as a result of cuts to general practice.

Dr. Stephen Murphy of the NAGP said, “The NAGP have already pointed out that the HSE has admitted to cutting funding to general practice by 35% although most General Practitioners have experienced a 40% reduction in funding which is impacting significantly on the ability of general practice to provide essential services to patients. The cuts to general practice are having a knock on effect on hospitals.”

Dr. Andy Jordan, Chairperson of the NAGP added, “One of the factors contributing to the burden on hospitals is the 10% increase in attendances at accidents and emergency departments over the past two years, which the NAGP believe is directly linked to cuts to General Practice funding.”

The NAGP believe that general practice has borne a disproportionate cut in funding that has already impacted on GPs ability to provide essential vaccinations to new-born infants, care of women in pregnancy and overall care of sick and disadvantaged patients.

All GPs provide essential services to public patients, who include the elderly, the frail, the vulnerable and the terminally ill.  General practices are now struggling to maintain services across the board.  Many general practices have found themselves in a perilous financial position over the last 12 months. Most practices have had to introduce cuts to staff and services and a significant number of practices, particularly those in rural and disadvantaged communities, now must consider closing.

Using the same logic and similar arguments to the hospital chief executives; the NAGP is stating that Irish general practice cannot take any further reductions in funding if this government expects even the most basic of care to be provided by GPs.