Doctors agree deal allowing free GP care for under-6s

The Irish Medical Organisation has reached agreement with the Government to provide free GP care for under-6s.

The deal comes after months of negotiations over concerns from doctors around resources and funding.

Ahead of its annual conference which starts today, the IMO that the Government has agreed to increase funding for free care for under-6s by €67m - an 81% increase.

They have also agreed on dispute resolution procedures for the scheme.

In a statement, the IMO said it will be up to individual GPs as to whether they accept the terms offered in the contract.

Dr Ray Walley, chairman of the GP Committee of the IMO and incoming President of the organisation described the agreement as a significant first step in a process to get additional funds into General Practice to enable it to deliver on its potential to provide a service to patients that is sustainable, viable and deliverable.

"We have stopped the cycle of cutbacks and begun the process of bringing new resources into General Practice," he said.

"We have more to achieve but we are committed to the development of a new GP contract that is capable of delivering 21st Century GP care to patients.

Dr. Walley said that it was particularly significant that the IMO had secured the withdrawal of the draft contract issued by the HSE in January 2014.

"That contract was unworkable and was simply a Trojan horse to force new terms and conditions on GPs which would not have been viable or sustainable,” he said.

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister for Primary Care, Social Care & Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch welcomed the agreement.

"This agreement represents the first step in the phased introduction of a universal GP service without fees," said Minister Lynch.

"The commencement of this service this summer will make a real difference to the lives of the youngest in our society.

"This new contract will also mark a shift towards promoting health and wellbeing and away from the old "illness model". It underlines the Government's commitment to enhancing primary care and keeping people well in the community."

Minister Varadkar said: "This agreement is a major step forward in improving access, quality and affordability of health care in Ireland. It also marks the most tangible step forward so far along the road to universal health care.

"From this summer, up to 300,000 children and senior citizens who currently have to pay to see their GP will no longer have to. This will mean real savings for pensioners and families.

"But it is about much more than that. The new enhanced service covers all children under six including those who have medical cards already.

"They will benefit from management of asthma in general practice and preventative wellness checks.

"Adults of all ages will benefit from the new diabetes programme, meaning they will have their condition managed by the GP who knows them, rather than in the hospital clinic.

"I want to thank the IMO for their leadership in coming to this agreement and I firmly hope all GPs sign up to this new improved and expanded primary care service."

KEYWORDS: IMO, free GP care


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