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IMO accuses Government of pushing 'spin over substance' after meeting

The two sides were discussing plans for free GP care for children aged under six.

Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White.
Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

A MEETING BETWEEN Government officials and GP representatives today doesn’t appear to have eased any doubts among unions that free GP care for children aged under six is achievable in its current form.

“What we have heard today has given us no confidence that promises made to patients by Government can be realised,” the IMO’s Ray Walley said following the meeting.

“What is happening here is nothing more than an imposition by Government of terms and conditions on doctors and this does not happen in Government dealings with any other sector.”

The Irish College of General Practitioners and the National Association of General Practitioners were also involved in today’s discussions.

A draft contract will be published by the HSE this evening and the public will have three weeks to make submissions on their views as part of a consultation process.

Minister of State for Primary Care Alex White has said that he is hopeful that the public consultation on the issue will achieve “broad engagement”.

The Government has committed to introducing, on a phased basis, a universal GP service by 2016 and have set aside €37 million of funding for this year as part of its phased introduction.

Once the fee structure is determined, it is envisaged that the he setting of the rates will be a matter for the Minister for Health subject to the provisions of legislation currently being drafted.

But the IMO say that the process to date has been “flawed”.

“In respect of this issue, the Government has prioritised spin over substance.  They may succeed in impressing the electorate in the short term by pushing through this policy change but if the introduction of this change is mishandled, it will prove a pyrrhic victory indeed,” said Walley.

Read: IMO remains “sceptical” about free child GP care and will tell the Government today >

Read: IMO accuses Reilly of ‘racing ahead’ with extension of free GP care >

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Rónán Duffy

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