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GPs call for minimum pricing of alcohol

It is also looking for development and funding of service for diabetes patients.

Image: Alcohol and money via Shutterstock

IRISH GENERAL PRACTITIONERS (GPs) have called for a minimum pricing for alcohol to be introduced.

The Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) has made the call in its pre-Budget submission.

ICGP has highlighted five key areas in its submission which it says the Government should prioritise in the forthcoming Budget.

These include:

  • Minimum pricing of alcohol
  • Developing and funding services for patients with diabetes
  • Ensuring access to diagnostics is more equal
  • Adequate funding for the move to a primary care focused health system
  • Improving patient information management systems to ensure improved communication between hospitals and GPs

Dr Mary Sheehan, Chairperson of ICGP, said that targeting “the destructive force of excessive alcohol consumption in Ireland should be a national priority, yet successive Governments have failed to tackle it.”

Kieran Ryan, CEO of ICGP said: “If the recent negative reaction to Arthur’s Day is indicative of public opinion, Irish people have had enough of the destructive force of alcohol in our society.”

The ICGP wants the Government to take “urgent measures” to reduce alcohol consumption. It says that a minimum price for alcohol can be complementary to an excise duty/tax increase.

It said that its members encounter people with alcohol issues on a daily basis.

Other issues:

ICGP wants the Minister for Health Dr James Reilly to prioritise funding for patients with ischaemic heart disease and diabetes, based on lessons learned from Heartwatch and the diabetes structured care programmes.

It noted that despite research showing that Heart Watch saves lives, the planned roll out following a successful pilot in 20 per cent of general practices never occurred.

It also wants patient access to diagnostics to be based on need – not on ability to pay. The ICGP recently published a report showing that more than 20 per cent of GPs do not have direct access to either abdominal or pelvic ultrasound in the public system.

However, in the private system virtually all GPs have direct access to ultrasound with an average wait of just over four days, it said.

It also wants the reallocation of funding from Secondary to Primary Care, with “funding to follow the patient”, and for investment in Primary and Community care.

It is also calling for the Minister to introduce a ring-fenced, properly funded e-health budget for accelerating ICT development in the health service. The ICGP said that an integrated patient management system across primary and secondary care is “long overdue”.

Read: CPI: Price of alcohol, tobacco and education up, cost of clothes down>

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