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The IMO, in a statement to its members, gave a very cautious welcome to the announcement, due to reservations about the commitment by Government to resource general practice.
“The IMO are ready to recommence negotiations on the new services issue and to enter negotiations on FEMPI but we do so with a warning that Government cannot continue to promise new services to patients in the absence of funding,” IMO GP Chairman, GP Dr Pádraig McGarry, informed members.
“The IMO on behalf of GPs have been engaged in intensive negotiations for over a year now on new services under Phase 1 of a GP Contract. These discussions ran up to December of 2017 at which time the IMO, Department of Health and the HSE had agreed the scope of services, particularly in the areas of Chronic Disease (Diabetes, COPD and Cardiovascular), New Special Items of Service and Capacity Supports.
“Those discussions were then paused so that the Department of Health could engage with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and secure adequate funding for this phase given that the amount allocated in the Budget was woefully inadequate. The next stage of the negotiation process on Phase 1 items is in relation to the resourcing of these services.”
The reversal of FEMPI and the introduction of new services in general practice are two separate negotiation processes, the statement pointed out.
But, the IMO has made clear that FEMPI is to support existing services, so as to ensure the current model is sustainable and that any new services require additional and separate funding, Dr McGarry wrote.
“Given the current financial issues within general practice, coupled with the lack of capacity, we have warned the Department and the HSE that there must be a FEMPI reversal roadmap. Without one it is difficult to see how new services can be introduced,” he advised.
“The IMO #reverseFEMPI campaign has been very successful and delivered sustained pressure to secure a FEMPI process but there are significant challenges ahead in these negotiations and we intend to continue to highlight to all stakeholders – patients and Government, the dire consequences of continuing to inadequately fund general practice.”