The looming costs of redundancy payments to GP staff will be raised by the IMO in upcoming talks with the Department of Health and the HSE, the Organisation’s President has told the Medical Independent (MI).
Dr Padraig McGarry said many single-handed rural GPs, who are approaching the age of retirement, are facing large redundancy payments to staff, such as nurses and secretaries. The payments have increased in recent years because of changes to national rules and regulations of redundancy.
Dr McGarry said that the IMO had recently proposed to the Department of Health the establishment of a fund to help with the redundancy cost burden for GPs. However, the Department has not agreed to the proposoal.
“It’s more particular [an issue] to single-handed practice, where the continuity of service may not be [there],” the Longford GP told MI.
“If you as a GP are due to retire and there isn’t somebody taking over that practice, the liability does fall upon the GP to give redundancy, two weeks per year of service.
“This leaves a significant burden. There is [no] contingency for this scenario. The main reason being, there used to be continuity of service. Because there was no break of service, the redundancy issue did not really become active.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health told MI that “GP practices are private businesses. The State contracts them to provide services to GMS patients and provides some additional supports to them to ensure that they have the capacity to provide that service.
“However, the staff in the practice remain the staff of the GP practice, which has the same obligations towards them that every business has to its staff.”
In terms of talks with the Government on the issue, Dr McGarry said: “We addressed it in the recent negotiations. We sought that the Department [of Health], in combination with ourselves, maybe set up a fund to deal with this. But the Department were reluctant to go down that road, less they create a precedent. I think it is a burning issue.
Dr McGarry confirmed to MI that he would raise the issue in future talks.
The IMO is due to enter negotiations with the Government later this year on the extension of free GP care to children under 12.