The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has said that the White Paper on Universal Health Care published today by the Minister for Health fails to address the crisis in general practice and that Irish patients will have to wait a further five years for meaningful reform of the Irish Healthcare.

Mr. Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP said:

“If the plan outlined in the White Paper is followed, it would mean that the system will continue to be under-resourced for a further five years. The primary concern of the NAGP is that there are not adequate resources to ensure that its members can provide an adequate service now, never mind in 2019.”

The publication of the White Paper takes place in the context of significant cuts imposed on General Practice by FEMPI legislation. The resources that GPs receive from the HSE (GMS Scheme) have been cut to the point where they are having a significant impact on patient health and services.

Stephen Murphy of the NAGP National Council said:

“The Minister for Health said this morning that 95% of all clinical conditions are seen in a primary care setting, yet less than 3% of the overall budget is spent on resourcing general practice. The White Paper fails to outline whether the Government is prepared to place additional funds in general practice in order to ensure that a progressive primary care strategy is implemented.”

Chris Goodey said:

“Minister Reilly speaking during the launch of the UHI plan recognised the importance of Primary Care and it would appear from the White Paper that Primary Care is at the centre of the plan. General Practice is the hub of all primary care. The White Paper fails to address the fundamental crisis that exists in General Practice. If his present policies continue there will not be a functioning family medicine structure to ensure that GPs can provide the care to meet the aspirations outlined in the White Paper.”

Minister Alex White stated that he is pressing on with free GP care for children aged five years and under and that he hopes to draft legislation in the next number of weeks. At this point in time there has still been no meaningful negotiation in respect of the resources necessary to provide the service.

Mr. Goodey said:

“NAGP is appalled that the minister is pressing ahead with the completely unethical plan for free care for  under 6s, when elderly, ill, and poorer patients are losing their medical cards.”

“The vast majority of GPs have indicated that they will not sign up to this Reilly /White contract. This is for myriad reasons – ethical , moral , logistical and social. Regardless of what funds are allocated to this scheme the facts remain the same; if the under 6s are given a free GP card, there will be a huge increase in visits to General Practice, thereby increasing the average GPs workload”

“Other patients will, of necessity, have to lose out or wait. The GP service is already overwhelmed. By accepting this Reilly /White vote-buying contract, GPs would be signing the death warrant of the current world class Irish family medicine service. It would have a serious follow-on impact on the rest of the health service with disastrous results.”

Chris Goodey is available for interview at 087 132 9714