The National Association of General Practitioners has said the current health system is "upside down".

At its annual conference today the association's new president, Dr Emmet Kerin, said the next government needs to reverse the system whereby most patients enter the system through hospital, instead of primary care.

As a result, he said emergency departments were overwhelmed.

Dr Kerin said that under the New Zealand model, 40% of funding goes to primary care, compared with about 8% here.

He told the conference in Kildare that best international evidence is that most care is delivered by general practitioners and the reform has to happen in primary care.

He asked that the next government look at 10-15 year investment in primary care.

The NAGP said it represents nearly 1,500 general practitioners.

The association has published the salary of its chief executive, in its annual accounts at the AGM.

Mr Chris Goodey was paid €127,788 in salary and expenses last year.

The NAGP said that the impact of the Government's policy decision on free GP care for children under six is now being felt by GPs across the country and the out of hours service is bearing the brunt and the cracks are beginning to show.

The association’s chief executive Chris Goodey said that 94% of all GP's are now seeing children under six for free, regardless of the financial situation or medical need.

He said that the vast majority of GP's contend that access should simply be based on medical need and not on ability to pay or age.

The conference heard that waiting times for urgent patients have increased from an average of just over two hours to over five hours.

The NAGP is behind the 'No Doctor No Village' campaign, which seeks to protect rural general practice and under which several GP's are planning to stand as independents in the forthcoming general election.