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The association today presented a detailed submission to the government’s ED Taskforce, where it calls for the significant expansion of GP out-of-hours cooperatives and greater access to diagnostic and in-patient facilities.
The submission admits that its recommendations will require initial investment but “the evidence clearly proves that this relatively small cost will deliver significant and continuing results in terms of ED attendances, secondary care utilisation, population health and health care investment.”
“The general practice response to increased demand for out-of-hours care has been via the co-operative movement,” reads the NAGP submission.
“Nearly all GPs in Ireland now work in an out-of-hours co-operative, seeing over a million patients per year.
“The out-of-hours co-ops provide a model that is capable of playing an extended role in emergency and out-of-hours care. General practice has a well-trained workforce which is in a position to take on roles in expanding and managing acute clinical care.
“An extended role for co-ops can include daytime services and facilities for ED staff to work in the community, if only to change the current culture of such departments. “
The access to diagnostic facilities is also raised in the submission.
“Many GPs rightly complain that our ED departments are unfairly advantaged because of the access to diagnostic and in-patient facilities that are denied to GPs which puts us at a clinical disadvantage in terms of providing an appropriate level of care to our patients.
“Failure to facilitate direct GP access to diagnostics creates an illogical situation where general practitioners are forced to refer patients to already overcrowded EDs for simple diagnostic tests.”
The NAGP has called for it to be granted representation on the ED Taskforce.