IMO warns of waiting lists if Government cuts GP feesWednesday 09 January 2013 22.20
The Irish Medical Organisation has claimed that general practice is at breaking point and it cannot withstand further plans by the Government to cut GPs' fees.
The union met Department of Health officials today to make its case against the Budget announcement of plans to save €70 million this year by cutting fees for GPs, pharmacists and others.
In its written submission to the department, the IMO warns that any cut would result in waiting lists for GPs, with doctors having to prioritise more immediate complaints.
The IMO says that many doctors have warned that they will be forced to cease participation in vaccination programmes should fees be cut from current levels.
The cut is due to be made under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2009.
Doctors say this would be the third reduction in fees in three years and would spell an end to the possibility of introducing universal GP care for the foreseeable future.
Addressing Department of Health Officials, Irish Medical Organistion’s GP Chairman Dr Ray Walley warned that GP services are already at breaking point.
He said services faced similar cuts in 2010, 2011 and 2012 and warned that any further cut would have serious consequences for patients.
"General Practice is at a breaking point. It is at a point where if we have any further cuts it is going to be economically non viable.
“As a result of that we will have waiting lists for the first time in General Practice... and we will have a higher referral rate to casualty and a higher referral rate to secondary care," he said.
Dr Walley said that the IMO GP Committee has not had any engagement with the Government since it came into power more than a year and a half ago.
He said the IMO wants to engage with it on new and innovative ways of maximising resources and using them in a way that meets patient needs and provides greater value for money.