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GPs say they were not 'adequately consulted' on Universal Health Insurance paper

The Irish College of General Practitioners say they are in favour of equity of access but the costs need to be known.

GENERAL PRACTITIONERS SAY they were not ‘adequately consulted’ prior to the publication of today’s White Paper on Universal Health Insurance (UHI).

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, Dr Darach O’Ciardha, Chair of Communications for the Irish College of General Practitioners, which represents around 3,000 general practitioners in Ireland, said that given that GPs “are vital at keeping the health system ticking over” the government did not adequately consult with them on how workable the proposals are. 

Adverse reaction

Dr O’Ciardha said that if there is not proper consultation with all stakeholders, including patients, GPS and other health workers and if this proposal is railroaded through, “there is no question that there would be an adverse reaction,” he said.

“GPs are very much in favour at developing a system with equity of access. Day to day GPs are banging their head against a wall in this regard to getting appointments and scans for patients,” he said, adding that GPs are “acutely aware of the difficulties of working in a two tiered system”.

Dr O’Ciardha said key questions remain unanswered, such as who will decide on appropriate levels of care or whether healthcare will be more costly.

“It seems like they have decided on one route without really knowing the cost, but there has been speculation that it could cost over €5 billion than we are spending already on health. We are already borrowing to meet the current costs of the HSE budget,” he said.

He criticised that there had been no representation of patient views and questioned the affordability of UHI for people.

Costs

“If improving equity of access is the priority it is hard to see how making healthcare more expensive will achieve this. Research has shown that insurance based systems are more expensive than tax based systems as well as more expensive for individuals. Health spending in the Netherlands has doubled in the last eleven years, from €46.9bn in 2000 to €90.0bn in 2011, according to the latest Dutch Ministry for Health Report of Health Care Expenditure, June 2012,” he said.

There are different methods that could bring about the same outcome that we are all looking for, said Dr O’Ciardha.

The Minister for Health James Reilly said free GP care and better access to life-saving treatments are central to the policy.

Speaking about this, Dr O’Ciardha said from a GPs point of view a “draft contract was put forward by Alex White and the reaction from GPs was that it was unworkable. Rather than have us treating patients, which is what we want to do it would have us tied up in administrative work and would have an affect on patients,” he said.

“The way the draft contract was introduced it was a pre-formed contract with no input from GPs. It gets things off on the wrong foot. It is such a contrast to where we want to be, sitting around a table and being asked what we think is workable for all,” said Dr O’Ciardha, who added that “this is the biggest shift in healthcare – we need all stakeholders to be listened to. We just need to be asked.”

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

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