Talks between the State and the Irish Medical Organisation on a new GP contract and reversing fee cuts are due to begin within weeks.

Speaking at the IMO annual conference in Killarney this evening, the Minister for Health Simon Harris said he hoped progress could be reached with GPs on a new contract within months.

He said significant resources would be available for it, subject to a deal.

On the controversy over what the exact fee cuts to GPs were, under FEMPI, Mr Harris said he did not want to get into a row at the AGM with the IMO over figures and percentages.

He said the way cuts are calculated can vary and from practice to practice also.

Mr Harris said what was not in dispute, was that GPs had suffered significant cuts by successive governments.

A series of motions on the issue were due to be debated today by GPs at the AGM.

Mr Harris briefed his government colleagues on the issues and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will have a significant role in relation to extra payments for GPs for new work and a FEMPI reversal timescale.

Galway GP Dr Martin Daly said that the ability of family doctors to take on any new work had evaporated.

He told the conference that politicians had conflated gross pay to GPs with net pay.

Dr Daly said that politicians had created unrealistic demands on family doctors, adding things would change when their constituents cannot get a GP, or doctors stop doing house calls.

Some contributors to the AGM debate said that things would not change unless patients suffer.

Mayo GP Dr Ken Egan said he did not believe there would be a new family doctor contract in the next five years.

He said GPs were unhappy but he did not see patients complaining.

Dr Egan said the answer was to start charging for everything.

Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley told the conference that the fee cuts imposed on doctors were before GPs’ expenses.

He also said that doctors have taken on 700,000 more medical card and GP visit-only card patients.

Two million people now have a medical card.

The AGM has passed a motion that the reversal of FEMPI relates to the provision of existing work and that any new work must result in additional and separate funding.