GPs warn funding cuts unsustainable

Wednesday 09 April 2014 22.00
Dr Stephen Murphy said the Government had succeeded in angering 97% of GPs
Dr Stephen Murphy said the Government had succeeded in angering 97% of GPs

General practitioners have warned that funding cuts in the health service have left some practices facing insolvency.

Dr Stephen Murphy of the National Association of General Practitioners said funding cuts introduced under financial emergency legislation had reduced GP funding by 38% across the board.

He described the cut as unsustainable, and warned that some practices with patients along the Western seaboard and in certain deprived areas with large numbers of medical card patients were insolvent.

He said the situation would be exacerbated by the proposed free GP care scheme for children under 6, which he described as badly thought out, badly designed and badly contracted.

He said the Government had succeeded in angering 97% of GPs, who had said they would not sign up to the scheme.

Dr Ray Walley of the Irish Medical Organisation said that the Under 6 scheme was a "Trojan horse" which would undermine other GP contracts.

He said the draft contract or legislation would permit the Minister for Health not only to define the workload for GPs but to change their fees and resourcing on a "whim".

He said 1,049 GPs had taken up contracts in the British National Health Service in the past four years.

He also said that for the first time, middle-aged GPs were emigrating.

He called on Minister of State Alex White to attend the IMO conference in three weeks to discuss the dispute, and insisted competition law concerns over negotiations cited by the Government could be overcome.

Dr Aifric Boylan, who qualified as a GP four years ago, said that she was emigrating to Australia because it would be an imprudent decision to open a practice which would lead to her financial demise.

She said she was aware of practices where GPs had foregone their monthly wage because otherwise the practice would have gone under.

Dr Ciara Kelly said that in her own practice, the income was down by 46% - adding that for the first time, her mortgage had recently fallen into arrears.

Chief Executive of the Irish College of General Practitioners Kieran Ryan said that up to 50% of current trainees had indicated that they were considering emigration, up from the usual rate of 10-12%.

Keywords: gps