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Up to 3,000 doctors set to leave Ireland

The National Association of General Practitioners is hoping that Leo Varadkar will step in to reverse cuts which affect them.

THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of General Practitioners (NAGP) are optimistic that new Health Minister Leo Varadkar will act to reverse cuts set out for general practitioners and hospital consultants.

This optimism comes as a response to comments made by Varadkar on last night’s ‘Tonight with Vincent Browne’ show on TV3.

The cuts had been outlined as part of the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act of 2013 (FEMPI). The NAGP noted that the impact of cuts to the health budget had led to around 3,000 certificates of competence being issued over the last 19 months.

Certificates of competence are given to doctors planning to work outside of Ireland. Speaking about the cuts, Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP said:

The emigration of Irish doctors to other countries will have far reaching consequences and could take decades to rectify.

The NAGP also complained about the disproportionately low portion of the health budget given to general practitioners. At current GPs deal with 90% of patient consultants and receive around 3% of the overall health care budget.

Goodey felt that the lack of funding could lead to additional charges for patients:

If GPs are to continue to provide a safe and effective service we will have no choice but to look for co-payments and perhaps charge medical card patients for certain treatments and conditions.

It was also said that the NAGP were “cautiously optimistic” about Varadkar’s understanding of the situation.

In response to the NAGP statement, the Department of Health commented on the ongoing LRC consultation on consultants pay by saying that working group had been set up by former Health Minister James Reilly to look at consultants pay and has been in place since 2013 to look at training and career pathways for hospital consultants.

The Department noted an issue regarding the earning disparity between consultants entering the field and their established counterparts that had arose over the last two years.

On the issue of consultant pay, the working group recommended: “That the relevant parties commence, as a matter of urgency, a focused, timetabled industrial retail engagement of short duration to address the barrier caused by the variation in rates of remuneration between new entrant Consultants and their established peers”.

Acting on that recommendation, the Departments of Health and Public Expenditure and Reform with the HSE and IMO have been working under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to address these issues comprehensively.

“The work and the negotiations are still ongoing.  All parties to the negotiations agreed that it would be inappropriate to make any public comment on the negotiations while they were in progress.”

READ: Nurses report ‘dangerous’ patient overcrowding at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital

READ: Calls for urgent meeting with Varadkar after serious failings at Mayo care home

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