The National Association of GPs has claimed that patients who should be admitted through hospital emergency departments are being sent back to their family doctor.

Dr Conor McGee, the president of the association, told its annual conference in Limerick that patients are getting sicker and facing more complications as a result.

He said people with chronic conditions such as diabetes, lung conditions and heart failure needed to be admitted.

The failure to do so was increasing pressure on GPs and unfair to patients who were at home when they should be in hospital.

The HSE has said hospitals are admitting 2% more emergency patients in comparison with last year.

It said that GPs are important coordinators of care, and that they should be aiming to keep patients with chronic conditions out of hospital.

Dr McGee said the solution was increasing capacity in hospitals and having more decision makers in emergency departments to ensure patients are admitted.

He also told the conference that there were many patients in hospital who should be supported for care at home, or in nursing homes.