The outgoing President of the ICGP, Prof Tom O’Dowd, has said that a forthcoming report from the College will offer a “real and substantial” contribution to the future of general practice and “form the basis for a Ministerial working group on the workforce crisis”.
Before its Annual Conference on 18 June, the ICGP issued a statement urging the Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly to establish a high-level working group to develop “innovative solutions” to the GP workforce crisis.
In his address to the College meeting, Prof O’Dowd said the work of the ICGP working group on the future of general practice is due to be concluded “soon” and the report will be issued to GPs for consideration.
The report, entitled Shaping the future: Solutions from the ICGP, is due to be published in September.
Prof O’Dowd, who is Chair of the ICGP working group, encouraged GPs to read the report and to consider the recommendations in a way that will “keep general practice at the top of the table”.
“Anywhere else is not good enough and does not reflect the importance of our specialty,” he said.
Prof O’Dowd thanked the audience of GPs and their teams of nursing and administrative staff for their work during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The trusted GP voice steadied the nation,” he said.
“That service that has been taken for granted for decades became the cornerstone and everyone now is in no doubt as to the value of general practice.”
He pointed out that new President, Dr Paul Armstrong, is taking the position at “a difficult time from a GP perspective, but also in the context of world economic turmoil”.
“Neither the College nor we, its members, remain isolated from what happens outside our door,” according to Prof O’Dowd.
“However, I know that Paul with his intrinsic calmness and a wisdom wrought from a long career as a GP and experience in governance in other organisations, will give great support to [Dr] John [Farrell – ICGP Chair], the board and senior management, guiding the College through its next challenges and opportunities.”
In a press statement, Dr Armstrong said GPs “showed their flexibility and adaptability” during the pandemic, which was a time “of huge pressure on doctors and their staff”.
“But we face the challenges of increased workload with a growing GP shortage, particularly in rural Ireland,” said Dr Armstrong, who is a GP based in Co Donegal.
WONCA World Rural Health Conference, University of Limerick, 17-20 June 2022.