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What does James Reilly think of being described as the worst health minister in history?

Doctors have claimed politicians are implementing policies designed to get them more votes rather than create a good heath service.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated 11.45am

JAMES REILLY HAS said his concern was always for patients when he was Minister for Health in response to criticism of him as the worst minister in the history of the State.

The Children’s Minister, who was moved from the health portfolio in July, was described by GPs has having done more damage to the health service than any other minister in the history of the State at the weekend.

Speaking at the AGM of the National Association of GPs (NAGP) in Limerick on Saturday, Dr Keith Swanick, a GP from Mayo, said the fabric of general practice has been “dismantled” and the doctor-patient relationship has been jeopardised.

The previous Minister for Health did more damage to the health service than any other Minister for Health in the history of the State and it’s even more embarrassing because he is a GP.

Responding to the criticism today, Reilly said that he was not involved in the health area now but said that his concerns were always patient focussed when he was.

“Obviously I have a long history of association with general practice. Different individuals will have their own view based on perhaps their own specific needs. My area of concern always when I was a minister was to represent the concerns of the people and the patient,” he said.

Tensions were high at the doctor conference on Saturday with many of the 150 delegates claiming political decision-makers are implementing policies which are designed to bolster election votes rather than to create a safe and equitable health service.

Dr Andrew Jordan, NAGP Cairman called on fellow GPs to stand up for their patients, and refuse to allow the government to take services away from them.

“As advocates for patients, we must not allow political expediency and populist ill-thought-out policies to replace policies that concentrate on high-quality, affordable care,” he said.

Reilly added this morning that the entire public sector had to endure cuts under public sector savings measures in recent years but said that as cuts to pay are restored he has “no doubt” that GPs will have a case to make.

“But that’s a matter for Minister [Leo] Varadkar,” he added.

- additional reporting from Hugh O’Connell 

First published at 1.35pm on Sunday, 16 November 2014 

Read: People with serious conditions being “turned away” from hospitals — GPs>

Read: Half of Ireland’s GPs are working more than 50 hours per week>

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