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GPs in "absolute crisis" - and it could take generations to recover

One group said that they could cut back on pro bono work if the situation continues.

Image: GP via Shutterstock

IT COULD TAKE up to three generations to recover from the current GP manpower shortage if the government doesn’t step in, a GP organisation has warned today.

Chris Goodey, CEO of the National Association of General Practitioners, was speaking to TheJournal.ie after the single largest gathering of GPs in the history of the state last night in Dublin.

He said that if there is no change in the current situation, GPs won’t be able to continue on with pro bono work – such as blood tests – house calls or certain trips to patients.

“Those things wouldn’t be able to continue on,” he said. “The waiting list will start arriving. We will be waiting to see your GP for a week or two weeks in a very short period of time if nothing happens.”

Meeting

There were 16 Oireachtas members present at the meeting, and high-profile GPs including Dr Ed Walsh and Dr Aifric Boylan.

GPs held the meeting as they believe “savage cuts” to general practice are putting patient safety in jeopardy.

They say that over 100 GP practices face closure, and many more face financial ruin.

Universal Health Insurance

Goodey said that GPs believe that before the issues can be resolved in relation to Universal Health Insurance, there needs to be an amendment to the legislation to allow GPs to negotiate properly and collectively, without preconditions, with the government.

He said that he believes the government is not doing this because members believe it will weaken their position. If the amendment takes place, Goodey said representatives from all the bodies concerned would sit down with the government and plan the way forward and negotiate together.

They are also concerned about funding for GPs. “We are now seeing GPs close around the country, we are seeing trainees disappear, and GPs retiring early,” he said. “Even newly established GPs are emigrating en masse. There is a manpower crisis.”

Absolute crisis

The GPs want the government to “acknowledge generally there is an absolute crisis” and “to commit to following their own mandate, which is money follows the patient”.

They are asking for 1 per cent of the healthcare budget every year for five years to be given to general practice in order to get it in line with European standards, and commit to transferring from secondary care to general practice.

“I think that if Minister Alex White is serious, Minister James Reilly is serious in achieving a better healthcare system for the population of Ireland, they will realise they have to come to the table,” said Goodey.

GPs are to hold three more meetings around Ireland on the issues as part of their ongoing campaign.

Read: White: I invited the IMO to talk about GP concerns – that hasn’t happened>

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

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