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In comments aimed at trust-building, Minister Varadkar also told the specialty meeting at the IMO AGM that he has asked party colleague, GP Dr Liam Twomey TD, to liaise with practices over “niggling” and “difficult” issues concerning the PCRS.
Minister Varadkar’s arrival was preceded by a closed meeting of GPs, including a presentation by GP Committee Chair Dr Ray Walley and a debate on the under-sixes deal. The media were excluded.
However, when the meeting opened, some comments from GPs hinted at an underlying distrust of the Government and the HSE, in respect to fulfilling the deal.
Dr Denis McCauley commented: “This deal is good, the chronic care aspect is good, but the FEMPI cuts reversal is vital. And I think in the meeting before this there was a general mistrust that that will come — there was a feeling it will be promised, we will sign up, but it will not come.”
Earlier, Dr Walley’s PowerPoint presentation had outlined how the controversial draft contract published by Government last year was “consigned to history”.
The under-sixes deal includes two basic health checks (one at age two and one at age five) and a defined cycle of care for asthmatic under-sixes.
The capitation for the under-sixes would be €125 per patient. Total revenue per patient would be €210 including pension, practice supports, STCs etc. The current capitation for under-sixes is €68.65, noted the presentation.
Dr Walley also detailed the provisions around additional payments for asthmatic care for under-sixes, and for adults with type 2 diabetes.
This deal was “a first step” towards a sustainable general practice system, he concluded.
In the open session, Dr Walley warned that Ireland had been “haemorrhaging” young GPs. Retention demanded a modern contract with appropriate resources, he said.
Minister Varadkar, in his comments, said the negotiations had been “tough”. The deal “certainly ended up costing more than we thought it would cost”.
The inclusion of the chronic care elements was “a big plus” and represented the way forward, he said.
“The talks will begin very soon on the new contract. The Government’s preference is that the next group be other schoolchildren and also other chronic disease groups. But we are very keen to ensure that anything that is done is with the agreement of GPs, and we are open to your suggestions as to how the next phases should be done.”