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The call was made today at the launch of the Partnership’s consensus document – Primary Care: A Framework for the Future – which outlines a series of solutions to Ireland’s numerous health challenges, at an event in Dublin, attended by Oireachtas members and healthcare professionals.
Dr Ronan Fawsitt, a member of the Primary Care Partnership Executive, called for the new position to be created by the next Government as a priority. “A GP-led primary care system is the best way to resolve issues with the current health system. The solutions outlined in the Consensus Document will not only improve services for patients, but will also reduce costs in other areas of health. A Minister for Primary Care is crucial to ensure the effective long term planning and delivery of a better primary care system for all stakeholders”.
He also called for €500 million to be invested in primary care annually over the next five years, to improve services in the community and help reduce pressure on hospitals. “It’s big bucks, but not mega bucks,” he commented.
Clare GP and newly elected Dáil member Dr Michael Harty helped launched the document and also supported the call for a new Minister for Primary Care, saying the current issues in primary care would not be resolved without a dedicated Cabinet focus and budget, which such a post would bring.
Dr Harty said if Irish primary care was funded as it is in the UK where it receives 9 per cent of the healthcare budget it would have a transformational effect.
The Primary Care Partnership brought together key leaders in areas such as general practice, nursing, medical training and education, rehabilitation services, nutrition and patient care and pharmaceuticals to produce a series of potential solutions which should be put in place in order to tackle Ireland’s health problems.
The consensus document addresses a number of areas, including: How primary care can better function through improved access to services; data protection and technology; access to rural medical services; general practice, emergency departments; and managing patient overload.
Today’s event was chaired by Dr Andy Jordan, Chairman of the NAGP, and also included a presentation Prof Garry Courtney, Consultant Physician and Gastroenterologist, St. Luke’s Hospital Kilkenny, who spoke about the importance of partnership and integrated care between the primary and secondary healthcare sector, which he said works very successfully in Kilkenny.
Chairman of the Primary Care Partnership, Mr Chris Goodey urged the Government to take seriously the ideas proposed in the document and to ensure a recruitment drive for GPs takes place. “This document presents an opportunity for all healthcare professionals to work together towards a primary care service that both patients and healthcare professionals deserve. For the first time ever, primary care providers have come together to give the government a series of solutions to fix our health service. We now have an opportunity to put in place some tangible change which can make a real difference to everyone involved – patients, providers and regulators. As part of this, the Government must undertake a recruitment drive for GPs and ensure that positions are attractive to both recent graduates and experienced GPs.”