The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) is disappointed by the Government’s failure to recognise the organisation’s obvious mandate by excluding it from preliminary ‘negotiations’ on the future of general practice.

The NAGP has over 1,000 members, which represents more than a third of GPs in Ireland and is in the process of applying for a negotiating license. However, a negotiating license is worthless unless the Government is willing to engage in open, transparent and meaningful negotiations.

Commenting on the current situation Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP, said: “Right now general practice is at the top of the political agenda and we are at a pivotal moment in healthcare policy development. It is against this backdrop that the NAGP is urging the Government to recognise the value of having key stakeholders, including general practitioners, involved in the strategic development of any future healthcare system.”

The NAGP believes that it is within the power of the Government to amend current legislation with regard to the Competition Act 2002. Similar legislation has been amended in many other countries including Australia, Holland and the UK, in the best interests of the population of those countries.

The Government is proposing to amend legislation to allow for free GP care for children under six, while taking medical cards away from the vulnerable, the disabled and the elderly – effectively those patients who are in greatest need. This clearly demonstrates that the Government is willing to amend, introduce or ignore legislation as it sees fit.

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) is due to appear in the High Court on the 21st of May to establish the collective rights of GPs to have their representative body negotiate on their behalf.

The IMO have the complete support of the NAGP with regard to their endeavours and we firmly believe that the right to collectively negotiate is in the best interest of patients and the provision of healthcare.

Despite reservations, the NAGP were prepared to enter discussions to listen to the Government’s proposals with regard to providing a framework for negotiations. It is therefore with grave disappointment that we have a learned through a third party the NAGP have been excluded from “talks about talks”, despite having a clear mandate from more than 1,000 GPs.

Minister Alex White has persistently claimed that the Department of Health wishes to engage with GPs and enter open, transparent and meaningful negotiations – this is clearly not the case.