The issue was discussed during last weekend’s AGM. Speaking to the<em><strong> Medical Independent (MI)</strong></em> on Monday regarding the auditors’ report, NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey said: “What I can tell you is the recommendation from the auditors is, because of the inequity that out of the [entire] membership only 161 actually contributed [to the legal fund], that all members that contributed should be then allowed to utilise their contribution to the legal fund towards membership fees into the future. That was the recommendation,” said Mr Goodey.
“So because of the inequity, because it seemed unfair that some members took the burden of the legal fund and others didn’t, they [the auditors] felt the fairest way to deal with that was over a five-year period that members would be able to utilise the money they had contributed [to the legal fund] towards membership fees into the future. [This] wouldn’t damage the financial viability of the organisation, but would reflect the fact that it would be fair and proportional to everybody.”
Mr Goodey said that in terms of the membership’s reaction to this recommendation, “everybody was happy within the AGM”. He added that this information from the auditor’s report would be communicated to all members who contributed to the legal fund.
Members were previously advised that the NAGP commissioned an independent audit and statement of affairs in relation to its legal fund. The audit results were presented to members at a closed session during last weekend’s AGM.
The fund, which sought donations from GPs, raised only €164,000 despite an initial target of €1 million. To date, more than €220,000 has been spent by the NAGP on legal campaigns, legal advice and the injunction against the HSE to prevent removal of patients from the panel of GPs who did not sign the under-sixes contract, according to the statement to members before the AGM.
“In light of recent questions by a number of members on social media platforms we have commissioned an independent audit and statement of affairs in relation to the legal fund which will be presented at the NAGP AGM,” outlined Mr Goodey in the statement.
The NAGP carried out four campaigns over two years, including legal preparation against the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission; a campaign to highlight competition law; the aforementioned injunction proceedings against the HSE; and nationwide roadshows regarding the under-sixes contract.
“The preparation process and the legal actions along with the campaigns were extremely expensive and as such we felt it was necessary to raise a fighting fund of €1 million to support our endeavours. This was the estimate suggested by William Fry solicitors needed to fight a High Court case. We fell well short of this, raising only €164,000,” outlined the statement.
However, the statement added that “despite the fact that the NAGP were unsuccessful in the injunction against the HSE, to date, no patients have been removed from any GP who didn’t sign the under-sixes contract”.
Meanwhile, in another statement to members prior to the AGM, the NAGP revealed that it was owed €174,000 in outstanding membership fees at the end of 2017.
The figure was “in line with our standard invoicing and cash flow schedule”.
The statement further advised that the NAGP “does not own other companies which contribute to our balance sheet” and it does not accept any contributions from the HSE.
Between April 2017 and March 2018, the NAGP received approximately €80,000 in pharmaceutical and “other service provider” sponsorship. The money is used to cover the cost of meetings and roadshows, it said.
According to information presented at the AGM, NAGP unaudited management accounts for nine months (from the beginning of April up to 31 December 2017) show that a small surplus of €3,750 was achieved.
Accounts for the full financial year will be available in May, Mr Goodey said.
He added that, in 2017, the Association took a number of steps to maintain viability following a loss of €61,000 up to the end of March 2017, which has included a pay cut of €24,000 by Mr Goodey.