The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has called on the Government to unconditionally reverse Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) cuts in general practice.
Responding to an announcement made by Minister Simon Harris earlier this week, the GP union have warned that a Minister having unilateral power to set rates would be disastrous for the future of general practice and patient care.
The statement issued by the NAGP was issued following the Minister for Health’s announcement on Tuesday that; “in future, the relevant Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, will have the statutory power to set and vary the fees paid to (health care) contractors”.
The NAGP council will be holding an emergency meeting this Saturday, 11th November, to discuss the implications of the cabinet proposal and the next steps they will take as a union.
Mr Chris Goodey, NAGP Chief Executive, commented: “Any reversal of FEMPI cuts to general practice funding should be unconditional in line with other sectors. The reality is that the money belongs to the patient for the delivery of general practice services.
“GPs provide an excellent service with 90 per cent approval ratings from patients, however, cuts to resourcing in the last ten years have severely impacted the standards that can be achieved”.
The union also claimed that GPs have suffered funding cuts of up to 38 per cent under FEMPI in addition to an increased workload, as patients with medical and GP Visit cards have increased to almost half the population due to the introduction of the under sixes and over 70s free GP care.
The NAGP cautioned that, unless the Government want a severely disadvantaged service, it will need to resource a decisive shift to GP-led primary care that will be equipped to keep patients out of hospitals and provide more care in the community.
Mr Goodey concluded: “Cuts to resourcing have brought general practice to the brink of collapse. GPs are forced to reduce consultation times and patients are waiting longer to see a doctor.
“The Government must take on board recommendations made in the all-party Slaintecare report and resource general practice”.