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Reversal of FEMPI needed urgently – NAGP

The Association contends that general practice is at crisis point and has urged the Government to assign adequate resources to GPs in the upcoming budget.

Mr Chris Goodey, NAGP CEO, said: “A reversal of the FEMPI cuts in 2011 and 2013 would release €70 million into general practice and would provide interim relief for a service which is facing increasing pressures due to the difficulties in retaining staff and responding to the ageing demographic.”

The NAGP submission states that the GP sector has been expected to care for an increasing number of medical card and GP-visit card patients over the past 10 years. The strain of providing care to more patients with less funding is “now showing in the sector”.

A recent survey has shown that 31 per cent of GPs plan to retire, or leave the profession, in the next three to five years, while 66 per cent would not recommend the profession to their children.

Mr Goodey stated, “The NAGP has been highlighting the critical shortage of GPs and, again, we emphasise the urgent need to adequately resource general practice in the 2017 budget. Studies published as recently as last week show that the number of GPs practicing in Ireland falls well below best practice. This shortfall will only increase while general practice is seen as unattractive and unviable in this country.”

A LHM Casey McGrath report commissioned by the NAGP in 2015 estimated that 2,954 GPs are currently working in Ireland. To meet the increasing demand, Ireland would need 4,264 GPs by 2021, says the Association.

The Association also highlighted its proposal to the HSE to change the purpose of the planned Primary Care Resource Centres. The NAGP has proposed that the planned centres be turned into “true resource centres” on the basis that diagnostics and services in the centres would now be available to all GPs and patients in the locality.

Additionally, the NAGP has called on the Government to address the “crippling debt” burdening GP trainees who have graduated from Graduate Entry Medicine (GEM) programmes.

According to the Association, these students are “forced to take out loans of up to €100,000 to cover their yearly tuition fees along with living costs”. There are currently “no supports in place” to assist these future GPs and the NAGP is calling for immediate action on this issue.

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