Negotiations between the IMO and Government regarding the extension of free GP care for children up to the age of 12 will commence during the final three months of this year, the IMO President has told this newspaper.
In April, the IMO announced details of a negotiated agreement with Government that secures €210 million in increased funding for general practice over the coming years, according to the union.
A large majority of the Organisation’s GP members have voted to accept the agreement.
The IMO has stated that extension of free GP care for children under-12 remains to be negotiated.
The union’s President Dr Padraig McGarry told the Medical Independent (MI) it was the Government’s policy to introduce free GP care for under-12s.
“It was not the preferred way of the IMO … but what we did agree is that if you are going to bring it in, then we are going to negotiate the terms and conditions. It will be brought in on a phased basis. The rationale for that is when you introduce free GP care at the point of contact, there is an increase in demand for it,” stated Dr McGarry.
The Longford GP said that by staging its implementation over four years “you are going to mitigate some of that increase in demand that would be there. It would be spread out over a more even period.”
Dr McGarry said negotiations “on the terms and conditions are to take place in the later end of this year”, specifically sometime in the final quarter.
He said the first tranche of children (six-to-seven years old) may begin receiving free GP care in the final quarter of 2020, with further extensions potentially in 2021 and 2022, etc.
“But that again has not been nailed down fully, but that is what the expectation is,” he told MI.
Regarding the chronic disease programme aspect of the agreement, Dr McGarry said there will be circulars sent out later this year, “probably October and again it will be an opt-in process”.
He said GPs will decide whether or not they wish to participate.
“There will be those who certainly cannot do it. But certainly, from speaking to quite a number of GPs, they would see that they would be able to do it or should be able to do it. That has yet to be seen, but again it is an optional issue.”