• Ireland Thinks survey, on behalf of the NAGP, found 68% supported more investment in General Practice rather than receiving additional tax cuts
  • 78% want long-term illness care from their GP rather than hospital outpatients
  • 90% of respondents said they were happy with the level of care they receive from their GP
  • Results follow separate December survey outlining Increased Patient Waiting Times in General Practice
  • GP-led Primary Care receiving inadequate investment relative to inefficient hospitals

A survey of 1,026 adults has found that 68% of patients would prefer the Government invested more funding into family doctor services rather than receive tax cuts. 78% of respondents said they would prefer to receive their routine care for a long-term illness from their GP rather than in over-extended hospital out-patients. The findings of the survey, carried out in December by Ireland Thinks on behalf of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP), support GPs’ calls for health care reform with a decisive shift to GP-led Primary Care. The NAGP is calling for a transitional fund of €500million per year to be put in place to resource General Practice and keep patients in the community.

Mr. Chris Goodey, NAGP CEO, said, “The results of this survey are particularly insightful against the backdrop of the crisis levels of patients waiting on trolleys in our hospitals. The HSE, Department of Health, medics, and now patients, are all saying the same thing – we must reform our health system and resource GP-led Primary Care to ensure that, where possible, patients are kept out of overwhelmed Emergency Departments and cared for in the community”.

Chronic Disease Management in a Community Setting

The survey demonstrated a preference for routine chronic disease management to take place in a community setting. 78% of respondents said they would prefer to receive their routine care for a long-term illness from their GP rather than in over-extended hospital out-patients. 92% said they trust their GP as a reliable source of health information while 90% said they would recommend their GP to a friend or family member. 96% believe that all communities should continue to have a local GP despite the high levels of emigration of family doctors.

Crisis in General Practice impacting Patient Waiting Times

Dr. Andrew Jordan, NAGP Chairman, responded to the survey results, “I am delighted that patients have communicated their confidence in GPs. This is heartening and reflects the efforts made by Family Doctors to provide a high level of service despite the disproportionate FEMPI cuts suffered by General Practice in recent years. General Practice has been operating beyond capacity for too long and we know the situation is worsening. 915 GPs are set to retire or emigrate in the next five years. This figure is particularly startling against the backdrop of an aging population in need of complex health care”.

This survey of patients follows the results of a survey of GPs published by the NAGP in December. The survey of GPs found that the pressure on GP services is increasing and this is having an impact on patients. The survey showed that only 32% of GP respondents were now able to provide an urgent appointment in less than three hours. This compares to 60% of surveyed GPs in October 2015.

Dr. Jordan concluded, “A partnership of Primary Care organisations*, which includes the National Association of General Practitioners, earlier this year called for ringfencing of €500m per year, for five years, to deliver a GP-led Primary Care system that is fit for purpose. These survey results demonstrate strong support among the general public for this investment. The Minister for Health has said we need a decisive shift to GP-led Primary Care. We know that every €1 spent in Primary Care saves €5 elsewhere in the health system**. The time has come to stop talking about the necessary changes. We must take action”.