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Many Irish GPs have reacted positively to the announcement of a negotiated agreement investing €210 million in general practice.
The deal is made of a €130 million FEMPI reversal, which includes pension contributions, an €80 million chronic disease package and a rise in maternity leave locum payments.
Some GPs have, however, expressed regret about the absence of reforms in areas such as out-of-hours. There are also concerns about the future roll-out of free GP care to under-12s, which has yet to be negotiated.
Nevertheless, most view the announcement as a stepping stone towards further improvements in general practice.
As revealed by the Medical Independent website on 4 April, GPs will receive their restoration of FEMPI in four stages. The first increase will take effect on 1 July 2019 with phased increases on 1 January 2020, 2021 and 2022.
The chronic disease package will be introduced on a phased basis and commence in January 2020.
By 2024, over 400,000 public patients will be in a chronic disease programme or a high-risk evaluation scheme for those deemed at risk of developing a chronic disease.
The agreement includes new maternity and paternity leave provisions. Contributions to maternity leave locum costs will increase from January 2020, while contributions to locum costs will be available for up to 14 days for paternity leave from the same date.
On the proposed roll-out of GP care to under-12s, the terms of which have not been agreed, IMO GP Committee Chairperson Dr Pádraig McGarry commented: “As health professionals we would prefer to see a different roadmap for the expansion of GP care, but we accept that this is Government policy and as part of this agreement the IMO has committed to entering into a new strand of negotiations on the resourcing and contractual provisions to deliver this service.”
He added: “It is important to note that both the chronic disease contract and the under-12 contract are opt-in and this agreement does not commit individual GPs to the provision of these services.”
The FEMPI reversal is accompanied by a number of changes in work practices and includes the introduction of a “medicine safety initiative”.
The NAGP has “cautiously” welcomed the agreement. The Association plans to analyse the deal and update members before issuing a ballot on the proposals.