A major difference has emerged between the State and doctors over the scale of cuts imposed on GPs during the period of austerity.

A Department of Health briefing paper provided to RTÉ News puts the overall cut in fees and allowances, under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act (FEMPI), at just under 25%.

The Irish Medical Organisation has put the cuts at 38% and GPs want the pay restored, without the precondition of agreeing new work, under plans for a new GP contract with the Government.

The IMO has said that in 2014, total medical card payments to GPs were €424m and cuts imposed to that date totalled €160m, which equates to a 37.7% cut.

The IMO said the cuts made under FEMPI have never been restored, despite the restoration of FEMPI having been agreed with all public servants.

The issue is set to dominate the three day annual conference of the IMO, which began in Killarney today.

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Dr Peadar Gilligan, incoming president of the Irish Medical Organisation, has said the cuts to GP fees is not just affecting their salary but their resources.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he also addressed the conflicting percentages of pay cuts under emergency FEMPI legislation.

Dr Gilligan said "There is always going to be disagreement between those who suffered the cost and those who imposed it."

He said the figure is much closer to 38% and that it is having a real and significant effect on the service GPs provide.

He said it is really important GPs are adequately resourced. 

He said one thing everyone can agree on is that there are unfilled General Medical Services lists in some areas and that it is challenging to provide GPs to certain parts of Ireland, without a viable model in place.

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Speaking at the IMO conference, chairperson of the Oireachtas Health Committee Dr Michael Harty said it looked like there had been very little progress on agreeing a new GP contract over the past 18 months.

He said that people's minds were now being concentrated.

Dr Harty said that a totally new, modern contract was essential, not add-ons to the existing 40-year-old contract.

He said this was about reforming the health service and trying to care for patients, as close to their own home as possible.

Recently, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said that GPs will not get the funding cut of about €120m restored for nothing.

The Department of Health puts the overall FEMPI cuts at about 24.5%.

The breakdown is: 8% in 2009; 9% in 2010 and 7.5% in 2013, by way of statutory instruments.

The department says that capitation fees, which make up the bulk of payments to GPs, were cut by an even lower amount - 20% - between 2009-2013.

Some individual cuts in certain areas were higher. For example, pay for administering the flu vaccine and other immunisations was cut by 33% in 2011.

The recruitment and retention of doctors is another issue that will be heavily debated at the conference.

Minister for Health Simon Harris will address doctors on Saturday.