The news on Tuesday that public patients face waits of up to 480 days for important tests used to diagnose cancer reinforces the need for a ten-year consensus on health, said National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) President, Dr. Emmet Kerin. His comments follow a public meeting on health reform which took place on Monday in Limerick. It was the final in a series of public meetings hosted by the NAGP. The survey of GPs released yesterday, commissioned by the Irish Cancer Society, and carried out by the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP), shows a striking difference in access to tests for cancer between the public system and the private system.

Dr. Kerin said, “This inequitable two-tier health system, as highlighted in today’s survey, is just one of the many ongoing issues in the healthcare system including outpatient waiting lists, the inhumanity of patients on trolleys, Emergency Department (ED) waiting times, and GPs at breaking point”.

At the public meeting, Dr. Kerin, called for a ‘Tallaght Strategy’ for Health which would remove the politics from healthcare. He said, “We need a ten-year consensus for health. A plan which involves all stakeholders – patient groups, healthcare professionals, public representatives and patients – is critical to ensuring an equitable and efficient health system. We need to create a plan for health that is independent of the electoral cycle and has a reasonable time frame to succeed”.

Dr. Ed Walsh, President Emeritus University of Limerick, was also a speaker at the NAGP-hosted meeting, “The trolley crisis in Ireland will only be solved by resourcing GP-led primary care and step-down nursing, so that only seriously sick people need to attend expensive acute hospitals”.

“Investing in GP-led Primary Care is the key to sorting out the Irish health system. Allocating in the order of just €1 billion from the annual health budget to GP-led Primary Care should be the goal”.

Public Meetings on Health Reform

The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) held three public meetings on health reform entitled “Taking the Politics out of Health” in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.  The general public attended alongside public representatives, healthcare professionals and key stakeholders to make their voices heard to ensure a better health service for all citizens.

Each meeting was chaired by Ms. Susan Mitchell, Health Editor of the Sunday Business Post, and expert speakers included Professor Brendan Drumm, Professor of Paediatrics, University College Dublin and former Chief Executive of the Health Service Executive; Professor Garry Courtney, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist, St. Luke’s Hospital; Dr. Ronan Fawsitt, General Practitioner and NAGP Council Member; Mr. Kieran Ryan, Chief Executive of the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP); Dr. Emmet Kerin, General Practitioner and President of the NAGP; Prof. Paul Finucane, Foundation Head of the Graduate Entry Medical School at the University of Limerick; Dr. Ed Walsh, President Emeritus University of Limerick; Dr. Gary Stack, General Practitioner, Killarney; and Dr. Jennifer Carroll, Consultant Physician, Cork University Hospital.

At the meetings, the NAGP, which represents more than 1,500 General Practitioners, set out its proposal 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.