The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has welcomed the Government’s plan to increase GP capacity in the Programme for Government. The NAGP, which represents almost 1600 GPs, said that consultation and negotiation with doctors’ representatives is crucial.
Dr. Emmet Kerin, NAGP President, said, “I welcome the Government’s plan to increase GP capacity. If properly resourced, GPs are ideally positioned to provide for chronic care management supported by pathways which would include diagnostics, physiotherapy, dieticians, occupational therapy, and all primary care partners in the community. This would allow patients to be treated locally and reduce the number of patients forced to visit busy Emergency Departments and Outpatient Clinics. Currently, we have a GP contract based around disease management but we need to move this to a contract which focusses on preventative medicine. We therefore welcome the call for a new GP contract in the programme for Government”.
Dr. Kerin continued, “GPs are ready to play a central role in the reform of our healthcare system and I would see this as being a GP-led primary care system. The reason for the GP-lead is not to set GPs apart from our primary care partners but to recognise that GPs are centrally placed in the primary care model. This allows for coordinated care and the best utilisation of scarce resources. The NAGP must be engaged in this process to allow GPs to have a voice in how primary care is reformed. Investment in GP-led primary care has been proven to save money and improve patient care. We know that every €1 spent in primary care saves €5 elsewhere. Right now, GPs are not being provided with the resources we need to deliver this care. A transformation fund to support the role of primary care must be established with ring-fenced funding for GP-led primary care”.
The NAGP welcomed the exploration of salaried GP posts in areas of unmet need, such as rural Ireland and urban deprived regions. The NAGP look forward to working with the Government on this proposal.
Dr. Kerin highlighted the capacity crisis in General Practice with 915 GPs set to retire or emigrate in the next 3-5 years, “The document (Programme for Government) promises additional GP training places but fails to address how we retain the world class GPs we are training for export. These young GPs are immigrating due to already unacceptable work arrangements in Ireland”.
Dr. Kerin also welcomed the extension of medical cards to all children receiving the Domiciliary Care Allowance. The NAGP are delighted the Government included their proposal for this extension, which, they sought last year.
Finally, the NAGP welcome the Government’s commitment to working with doctors’ representatives and look forward to working closely with the Government to ensure a GP-led primary care system that delivers for the patient.