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NAGP criticises Taoiseach over reported remarks on GP referrals

The Taoiseach was reported to have said that, if every GP sent two fewer patients to emergency departments (EDs) each week, it would assist significantly in resolving the trolley crisis.

The Association said today: “Comments like this are hugely concerning as it would appear that the Taoiseach doesn’t actually understand the crux of the problems in the health care system.

“If there is inappropriate behaviour taking place in the healthcare system, it is not GPs who will be taking the blame. GPs never put patients on trollies, it is the hospital staff who make that decision, based on their assessment when they present at the hospital.”

The Association said that, on the contrary, GPs refer patients to EDs as a last resort.

“A GP-led primary care model and not the upside down structure which is currently in place would help alleviate the pressures in the health service,” stated the Association.

It added that “chronic underfunding and limited access to diagnostic equipment” for GPs is playing a huge part in ED overcrowding.

The Association said the inference that GPs should be monitored in terms of their referral rates “hugely undermines our professional, educated and compassionate reasoning” for referring patients to EDs. “With every decision made, GPs have the patients’ wellbeing and safety in mind,” it added.

“Empowering GPs to carry out more procedures in the community, in a GP-led primary care health system is what is required. Giving GPs access to diagnostics in the community and the facility to manage chronic disease is what will help alleviate the waiting time, lists and demand for beds in hospitals.

“Again, the NAGP asks that negotiations on a GP contract get under way with the representative bodies to ensure that patient safety and wellbeing is at the heart of our healthcare system.”

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