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Universal Health Insurance model comes under further criticism by health workers

The White paper published today has been slammed by GPs, mental health groups and the IMPACT trade union.

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THE IMPACT TRADE union has called the Universal Health Insurance (UHI) model “deeply flawed”.

They expressed their disappointment that the Government had “decided to press ahead with a competing private insurers model” adding they were also disappointed in the “restrictive” consultation process outlined in white paper published today.

The paper says that the objective of the government is to “bring to an end the existing unfair, unequal and inefficient two tier health system.

IMPACT national secretary Louise O’Donnell said the new scheme is fundamentally flawed, as it will place an immediate financial burden on families and has been produced without any meaningful consultation process.

Consultation

“There is no consultation taking place on any other options, such as those recommended in Dr Jane Pillinger’s 2012 report, The Future of Healthcare in Ireland,” she said, adding that it was recommended that all the options be evaluated, but that the report was ignored by the minister.
Meanwhile, the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP)  said that new proposals fail to address “the crisis in general practice” adding that Irish patients will have to wait a further five years for meaningful reform of the Irish Healthcare.

Stephen Murphy of the NAGP National Council said:

The Minister for Health said this morning that 95 per cent of all clinical conditions are seen in a primary care setting, yet less than 3 per cent 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.

They added there dismay at Minister Alex White’s statement 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.

Resources

“At this point in time there has still been no meaningful negotiation in respect of the resources necessary to provide the service,” he added.

Goodey said “the 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,” he concluded.

Mental Health Reform also expressed their disappointment at UHI, expressing concern about the absence of counselling in the services mentioned in the White paper.

Counselling

The proposed standard services does not include talking therapies that are accessible through GPs, an important part of early intervention for mental and emotional distress, they stated.

Dr Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform said:

For most people who experience a mental health difficulty, their first port of call for professional support will be their local GP.This primary care system addresses 90% of mental health difficulties in Ireland.
Failure to cover counselling in primary care under UHI would mean that the vast majority of those seeking help for a mental health difficulty would not have equivalent access to counselling as they will to medication.

Earlier today, the Dr Darach O’Ciardha, Chair of Communications for the Irish College of General Practitioners, which represents around 3,000 general practitioners in Ireland, said GPs had not been adequately consulted on the new proposals and that if the government decided to railroad this initiative through there would be an adverse reaction from doctors.

Related:  Insurance for all and state subsidies: Universal Health Insurance paper published>

Read: GPs say they were not ‘adequately consulted’ on Universal Health Insurance paper>

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