The National Association of General Practitioners has claimed that the HSE’s National Service Plan for 2018 fails to address the “key crisis issues that are crippling the healthcare system”.
Problem areas that the GP association claims have been ignored include general practice capacity issues.
The NAGP stated: “With the sector currently at breaking point and getting worse, there is no commitment to introduce additional resources to relieve the crisis. Further, there will not be any additional efforts made to retain GP talent in Ireland which is currently experiencing the largest migration of GPs in the history of the state due to the extremely difficult and toxic environment that has been created by the HSE, the Department of Health and successive Ministers for Health”.
Failure to deliver “meaningful reform” in the transition from secondary to primary care was also highlighted as an oversight in the plan. The association expressed surprise at this, despite the need for transition from secondary to primary care having been spoken about “ad nauseum” by the HSE.
The association commented: “Yet again in 2018 there will not be any positive move in the direction of the vision of the Slaintecare Report. In 2018 the government has committed just €25m to the development of primary care which will be spent on leases for new primary care centres and to support training, therapies and nursing.
“To make this transition there must be a real commitment made by the HSE and backing given by government”.
The NAGP also alluded to the conspicuous failure to address waiting lists, which are “bigger now than they have ever been” and a “national embarrassment”, currently in the region of 684,000 people waiting.
The HSE will continue to expand on the GP visit card scheme despite the capacity crisis in the HSE, which the NAGP has asserted is effectively creating an “apartheid-like system of healthcare”.
It is the view of the NAGP that the GP visit card scheme is of minimal value to the holder, as they will not have access to medications or further therapeutic interventions when required, and that it should be scrapped and converted to full medical cards once resources have been put in place to address the capacity issue in general practice.
Concluding the statement, the NAGP said that GPs are tired of apologising to their patients for our failing healthcare system.
Lengthy waiting lists frequently measured in years, no access to diagnostics, poor access to specialists, were listed among the main reasons for the apologies. NAGP Chairman Dr Andrew Jordan said: “It is both incredibly frustrating and deeply saddening that our system of healthcare has descended to this level.
“We, as GPs, are in an impossible position. We want to help our patients but we have system that is blocking us from doing that. It is our patients who are suffering and it is very unfair on them, many of them endure debilitating conditions for years before they can get the treatment they need”.
The NAGP predict that the 2018 plan will see the healthcare crisis deepen further, waiting lists get bigger, more trolleys on corridors, and more suffering for sick people.