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Competition Authority warns GPs against withdrawal from Primary Care Teams

The authority has told the Irish Medical Organisation that any refusal to join Government-run health teams would break European law.

Image: Dragon Images via Shutterstock

THE STATE BODY for enforcing competition law has told doctors that any withdrawal from Primary Care Teams would breach European law.

The Competition Authority was reacting to a statement from the GP committee of the Irish Medical Organisation who said that in reaction cuts to doctors fees, GPs would not be offering their services to Government-run Primary Care Teams.

However, the Competition Authority said today that any move to do that would put doctors in breach of Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, specifically Section 4 of Article 101. This section prohibits any measure that would restrict or distort competition.

“The Authority considers that these competition law prohibitions apply to self-employed GPs,” said a Competition Authority statement.

The Authority further considers that an agreement to take collective action or any subsequent collective action on foot of such agreement breaches Section 4 and/or Article 101 of the Treaty. This is consistent with the view that the Authority has taken in previous cases involving trade associations representing pharmacists, hauliers, travel agents and veterinary surgeons.

The statement added that the Competition Authority has written to the IMO to set out their objection to the plan.

Dr Ray Walley of the IMO said earlier this week that the move was necessary to protect doctors.

“Our members are committed to doing all they can on behalf of their patients but faced with these continuous cuts, GPs will now have to focus on working to their contracts and having other services referred for attention to their nearest hospital,” he said.

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