The first of three public meetings on health reform took place on Wednesday hosted by the National Association of General Practitioners. The meeting successfully brought the general public, patient organisations, TDs, and healthcare professionals together to discuss health reform and a proposed 10-year consensus on health.

A panel of expert speakers on health volunteered their time to put forward their opinions and suggestions for a reform of healthcare in Ireland.

The audience pictured at the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) meeting entitled 'Take the Politics out of Health' at the Ballsbridge Hotel on the 20th April 2016. Photo taken by Philip Leonard. NO REPRO FEE.

Taking place in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Dublin, and chaired by Ms. Susan Mitchell, Health Editor, Sunday Business Post, speakers included Professor Garry Courtney, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist, St. Luke’s Hospital; Dr. Ronan Fawsitt, General Practitioner and NAGP Council Member; Professor Brendan Drumm, Professor of Paediatrics, University College Dublin and former Chief Executive of the Health Service Executive; and Mr. Kieran Ryan, Chief Executive of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP).

All speakers called for more funding for GP-led primary care. Professor Brendan Drumm said that he believed that investment in GP-led primary care is the only way issues in the health service can be solved. He reiterated previous comments that the focus has to change allowing GPs to bring solutions to the table. All speakers also said they believed that the corporatisation of general practice is not the direction to follow and the service needs to be GP-led.

A variety of speakers from the floor ensured a lively debate on the key issues with input from patients, healthcare professionals, TDs, and patient representative groups including the Irish Cancer Society, Parkinson’s Association of Ireland and Age Action Ireland.

At the meeting, Dr. Ronan Fawsitt, GP and NAGP Council member, called for a ‘Tallaght Strategy for Health’ which would take the politics out of the national healthcare system and ensure a 10-year plan with consensus across healthcare providers. Such a consensus can only be achieved by involving all the political parties, representative bodies, patients and stakeholders, to create a plan for health that is independent of the electoral cycle and has a reasonable time frame to succeed. He reiterated his call for a Cabinet Minister for Primary Care which would be necessary to drive change.

Investment in a GP-led primary care could be achieved through legislative changes through a Transformation Fund.

The NAGP’s series of public meetings continued with a meeting in the Clayton Silver Springs Hotel, Cork, yesterday evening. A public meeting will take place in the Strand Hotel, Limerick at 7.30pm on Monday, the 25th April. The general public, healthcare professionals, patient groups and stakeholders are urged to attend a meeting to put forward their opinions on health reform.