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Sláintecare doomed to fail unless general practice is repaired, ICGP president warns

Dublin GP Dr John O’Brien told the Medical Independent (MI) “unless you repair general practice, Sláintecare will fail”.

This is because there is insufficient resources in general practice to support the plan, Dr O’Brien said.  

As uncertainty grows surrounding Government plans to invest in Sláintecare reforms amid HSE spending overruns, Dr O’Brien warned substantial sums of money are required to repair the damage that has taken place over the last ten years in general practice.

“If we are to save general practice, and I actually think we’re at that point, if we are to save general practice we have got to get away from away thinking that four or four and a half per cent of the national spend is sufficient for it,” he said.

“Without a properly-resourced and a properly-staffed GP service there is no way this health service can be anything other than an escalating mountain of cost and deteriorating level of service.

“I think Sláintecare has underestimated the degree of funding that will be required to transfer chronic care into general practice. They have underestimated the requirements in terms of manpower that will be required to back that up.”

Commenting on the recent appointment of Ms Laura Magahy as Executive Director of the Sláintecare programme office, Dr O’Brien said unless she has access to “serious money and sufficient teeth to enforce” reforms there is a risk that resources will continue to be directed at repairing the hospital system instead of general practice.

“It needs a rethink away from doing the patchwork on hospital medicine towards an actual understanding that the entire healthcare system sits on top of general practice,” he said.

“I don’t think in Government circles and even in the Sláintecare report itself that they fully appreciated just how serious matters were in general practice.”

Dr O’Brien said 64 per cent of GPs see more than 30 patients a day, while 20 per cent of graduates are now working outside Ireland. 40 per cent of graduates work part time and 50 per cent are unwilling to run a general practice

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