The first few weeks of 2014 have flown past and I would like to take this opportunity to wish all of our members a belated Happy New Year. We have a busy and immensely challenging year ahead of us as we continue our fight for proper funding of general practice and ensure that this issue remains at the top of the political agenda.
Starting as we mean to go on, the results of our new survey — the single biggest GP survey ever carried out in Ireland involving over 700 GPs — have been published extensively in the national media today. The survey captures the overwhelming sense of despair, negativity and uncertainty among GPs practicing in this country today.
A mere three per cent of GPs have stated that they will definitely take on the scheme for free GP care in the under sixes. A further 41 per cent definitely or probably will not take on the scheme while 31 per cent are undecided. Minister Reilly and his advisors must take heed of these stark findings as they represent the attitude of GPs on the ground in Ireland.
Our survey also highlights alarmingly high levels of stress among GPs with 16 per cent reporting that current stress levels are affecting their mental health, as well as the quality of their work and family life, rising to 19 per cent in surgeries with over 70% GMS patients. Over 70 per cent of GPs said the quality of their work was being affected by their high stress levels.
Another key finding is that 41 per cent of GPs have been unable to replace broken equipment such as ECG machines and 24-hour blood pressure monitors. The lack of these essential tools of the GP’s trade cannot but impact on the quality of patient care.
A huge thank you to Dr Aifric Boylan for the time and effort she put into conducting this survey and to everybody who took the time to participate.
The NAGP has no intention of sitting back and watching as the one part of the Irish healthcare system that works — and that most people are happy with — is systematically dismantled before our eyes. What these new findings confirm is the detrimental effect that continued cutbacks are having on the health of our GPs and as a consequence, on patient care.
The NAGP is more than prepared to rise to the challenge that faces us this year and into the future. As part of our active public affairs campaign, we are inviting every doctor in the country to take part in our TD awareness initiative. Over 100 TDs will visit surgeries across the country over the first three months of 2014 to see at firsthand the impact that continuous FEMPI cuts have had on general practice. And that’s only the start!!
We need your support to secure the future viability of our profession
Proactive media campaigning and lobbying costs money and we need your support to ensure that our fight for proper funding and the issues facing general practice in Ireland today are kept firmly at the forefront of public attention. If you are not already a member, please join the NAGP and encourage your colleagues to join us in ensuring the future viability of our profession. Click here to join.
In order to encourage membership and to reflect the financial pressure being endured by many GPs, our introductory offer of €350 annual membership subscription is still being offered to new members.
Productive meeting with Fine Gael Health Committee
Last night (Jan 22), a meeting was held between the Fine Gael Health Committee, the NAGP and the IMO. The info
rmal gathering, which took place in Dáil Éireann, included about 16 TDs and senators and was chaired by Regina Doherty, TD. The special advisor to An Taoiseach and special advisor to the Minister for Health were also present.
The NAGP was represented by myself, Dr Andy Jordan and Dr Aifric Boylan.
It was an extremely productive meeting overall and we feel the TDs were left with a much clearer understanding of the issues facing GPs on the ground at the conclusion of the discussion. Our presentation concentrated on the results of our survey and there was a fairly robust discussion afterwards.
We stressed to the members of the committee that negotiation and agreement between Government, the IMO and ourselves was paramount in moving forward with the Programme for Government.
As a direct result of last night’s meeting, we will be meeting Minister of State for Primary Care, Alex White on January 31 for further discussions.
Database of GPs shutting up shop in Ireland
We are currently compiling a database of Irish GPs who have emigrated, closed up their practices because they were no longer viable or who are planning to go abroad to work.
We are calling on GPs around the country to help us in our efforts to build a clearer picture of what’s going on in general practice today by contributing to this database. If you or any of your GP colleagues are in any of the situations mentioned above, please email for the attention of Dr Don Punch, our National Council Secretary at firstname.lastname@example.org