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Former IMO President Dr Martin Daly accused the NAGP of ‘cosying-up’ to the HSE on the establishment of the community healthcare organisations (CHOs).
“I am going to say this bluntly — the NAGP essentially welcomed the CHOs. I think it did that in order to ingratiate itself with the HSE,” the Co Galway GP said. “I think we need to be very careful that we do not sell ourselves short without the resources.”
Dr Daly added that almost every GP recognised that the CHOs meant new work without additional resources, as well as a secession of independence.
Former IMO President Dr Martin Daly
He was speaking on a motion proposed by Dr Pascal O’Dea, which stated that any attempts to roll-out the CHOs in advance of resources or negotiations would not be appropriate. It called on the HSE to ensure that the implementation of the CHOs is planned accordingly.
Dublin GP Dr Frank Clarke said that GPs’ frustration was the reason why the NAGP exists.
“We should be taking a proactive approach now and setting-up our own networks so that we can react locally when work is being transferred to us, because that is happening all the time,” he said. “What is the IMO doing about that?”
Unfortunately, he added, IMO representatives do not have the time or resources to reach down to practice level.
“And that is why the NAGP exists, because people got disillusioned and disconnected. It’s kind of the Donald Trump thing, isn’t it?”
The IMO’s structure needed to be urgently examined to ensure that proper representation is achieved, he said.
Chief Operating Officer Ms Susan Clyne said the Organisation has been communicating with its members on this issue, as well as highlighting GPs’ contractual obligations.
“Every week, IMO GP members get information on contract issues,” she said, adding that meetings were held with members during the winter. “We also have an advisory unit in the IMO just to deal with GP queries, so I think the IMO is responding to the need.”
In a similar motion, Mayo GP Dr Eleanor Fitzgerald said that the CHO structure is drawing funding away from front-line services.
“There are about three layers of management appointed since the CHOs came into existence — that is where the money is going. It is not going into our general practice.”
The amount spent on administration needs to be made public “and indeed, there could be an outcry against it”, she said.
Co Mayo GP Dr Jerry Cowley said it was a privilege to serve his patients but warned that the future of rural practitioners was gone.
“Even though the IMO has done great work, and I do appreciate that, I don’t hear anything about distance codes and that is something that troubles me greatly.
“I would be very happy to see the IMO speak more about these issues. My daughter and her husband have a wonderful medical vocation but they are over in the Isle of Man and they see no hope of coming back. They would have loved to have come to Mulranny to take over from me, but that dream is not a reality any more, or is unlikely to be. I want the IMO to fight for me and people like me.”