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New IMO President Dr Peadar Gilligan was scathing about what he regarded as the lack of engagement with the medical profession and also the lack of detail in the report.
“I would expect that there [would] be a terrific evidence-base. I would expect that the implications have been considered… in great detail. I just didn’t get the impression, and I still don’t have the impression, that has been the case with Sláintecare.”
Dr Gilligan, a Consultant in Emergency Medicine, said he thought there was “an attempt in Sláintecare to pit general practice against hospital medicine”. He queried the basis of moving the focus of the health system to primary care.
“How are we going to address the tens of thousands of people on waiting lists, waiting to see specialists, and the waiting times we have in emergency departments around the country?”
“I have heard the expression that this is ‘the only show in town’ quite a few times, but some of us have been around long enough to have seen lots of shows in town come and go.”
Dr Gilligan’s concerns were echoed by a number of GP members of the IMO.
“I read the report from cover-to-cover,” said Co Waterford GP Dr Austin Byrne.
“While I found the report very admirable in terms of its content and aspiration, I felt that the technical side of the report was really quite lacking in terms of detail about manpower.”
Monaghan GP Dr Illona Duffy said she thought the report was “unfortunately light on how it’s going to happen”.
“When we can see that people [presently] cannot even sign on to the [local] GP when they move to a new area, when we find that we can no longer offer that same-day service that we did, we are morphing into the NHS GP system.”
Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley said he had significant concerns with the report, saying the focus should be on improving GP services now.
GP Dr Michael Harty TD, who was one of the report’s authors, said it acknowledged that entitlements could not be expanded without appropriate capacity in general practice and hospital care.