7 August 2016, Sunday
By David O’Sullivan
Fine Gael Cork North Central Senator and Seanad Spokesperson on Health, Colm Burke has today (Sunday) called for the negotiations for a new General Practitioner contract to be fast tracked.
“There is an urgent need to expedite the negotiations for a new GP contract. Any such negotiations must involve all of the representative bodies of General Practitioners, including the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP). As of today’s date the NAGP have not been brought to the negotiating table, even though they now represent a large group of General Practitioners throughout the country.
“I would expect that the Minister for Health Simon Harris will instruct his Department to include them in any such talks.
“Over the last eight years General Practitioners have continued to provide a comprehensive service for their patients, even though the level of payments they receive has greatly reduced. Many GPs who I have met with over the last six months have told me that they have suffered a reduction of up to 40% in funding. We cannot expect them to provide a service if they are not adequately resourced.
“There is an urgent need to maintain and grow the services which GPs provide in the communities in which they service. At the present time 63,000 people per week attend Outpatient Departments in Irish hospitals and a further 23,000 people per week attend Accident and Emergency Departments. These attendances in our hospitals will continue to grow unless we put in place adequate support structures for GPs. These structures must include the roll out of IT, greater access for GPs to diagnostic services and more integration between primary and secondary care.
“Over the next ten years we face major challenges in our health system due to demographic changes. In the last 10 years the over 65 age group has increased by 31%, from 462,400 to over 600,000. That demographic change will continue, with the over 65 age group population increasing to 1 million people within the next 14 years.
“GPs are prepared to meet this challenge head on. However; they require the necessary financial support mechanisms, the infrastructure and more immediate access to hospital services, in order to deal with the new demands which are placed on them. Each section of our health service hospitals, GPs, Community Nurses and Social Services all have a part to play in improving and building a comprehensive healthcare structure and this cannot be achieved by one element acting on its own.”