Since 2009, GPs providing services to patients who have a medical card or a doctor only visit card have faced three cuts to fees and supports under FEMPI and reductions to fees to care for those over seventy. These cuts have had varying effects depending on the type of practice and the location of the practice. The IMO said that, in rural areas or for GPs with a high number of nursing home patients, the cuts were over 40 per cent. The Organisation, which commences its three-day AGM in Killarney today, underlined that the average cut across all GP services was 38 per cent.
In 2014, total GMS payments were €424,646,000 and cuts imposed to that date totalled €160 million, which equates to a 37.7 per cent cut, according to the IMO. “While since that date new services for under-sixes and diabetic patients have been introduced, this new funding does not negate the impact of FEMPI cuts as it was for new work not existing services,” outlined the Organisation. “These cuts were made under FEMPI and have never been restored, despite the restoration of FEMPI having been agreed with all public servants.”
The cumulative effects of these cuts, as highlighted by the IMO, are GPs being unable to take on new patients; patients having to wait for longer to be seen; practices closing down and communities being left without a GP; and no new practices establishing as younger GPs emigrate to systems that “support modern practice”.