Well, very often we can. While we don’t claim to do everything, we are in a position to assist with a whole range of issues, not just industrial relations. Over the past number of years we have invested heavily in developing services for our GP members to assist them in all aspects of the business of general practice.
The core mission of the IMO is industrial relations and our experts in that area work closely with the GP Committee on national negotiations. I am sure that all GPs are fully aware of the key priorities at the current time, which are a roadmap for the restoration of FEMPI and new funding to enable GPs undertake improved services to patients.
It is hard to credit that in order for the IMO to be in a position to negotiate with the State on the resources required for general practice, we had to undertake protracted and costly legal action while defending our rights against claims from the Competition Authority. But such was the position of the State at that time. Since the introduction of the Framework Agreement, we have negotiated the resources attaching to the provision of care to under-sixes, the diabetic cycle of care, new special items of service, increased resources for rural GPs, and additional resources for the Primary Childhood Vaccination Scheme.
For the past year, we have been in extensive negotiations on new contractual provisions on chronic disease, capacity measures and new special items. However, until such time as the issue of a FEMPI roadmap is dealt with, we cannot see how it can be considered possible by Government that more work will be loaded onto an already struggling service. The message from the IMO has been very clear and succinct: #reverseFEMPI.
<h3><strong>Member Advisory Service</strong></h3>
The IMO has a dedicated team of four expert member advisors who can support and represent GPs in a wide range of areas and the IMO website contains a wealth of material on GMS circulars, template contracts, policies and procedures.
GMS Contract Entitlements: The IMO can advise members in relation to the operation of the GMS contract with regard to all PCRS payments and pursue cases for those who have been underpaid on any aspect of the GMS contract.
Human Resources: The IMO has template staff contracts, policies and procedures which can be tailored to members’ specific needs. The IMO will also represent any GP member before the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court in the event that a staff member takes a claim. This representation is included in your membership fee and comes at no additional cost to members.
Business of Practice: We offer individual guidance and advice to those GPs who are currently establishing or taking up partnership arrangements in general practice. Additionally, for those GPs who are closer to retirement, we can guide you through the process to ensure you receive all your benefits and maximise your options. Our expert knowledge around the rules pertaining to succession, freezing of panels and partnership are fundamental in making decisions in this respect.
Information Seminars: We have just recently completed a nationwide series of meetings for GPs and their practice staff on GMS contractual matters and on the GMS pension. These meetings were extremely well received and it is our intention to conduct further seminars on areas around the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), human resource management and other issues pertinent to the business of general practice.
Guidance on Regulatory Requirements: The IMO can advise with regard to the correct procedures, polices and obligations under data protection legislation, standards and best practice in relation to HIQA, Children First and other legislation and importantly how these interact, or not, with your GMS contractual obligations.
<h3><strong>Policy and advocacy</strong></h3>
The IMO has a dedicated policy unit, which makes submissions on behalf of the membership with regard to proposed new regulations and legislation. This helps ensure that the implications of any new legislation that affects general practice hear from your union prior to enacting such legislation. Working with the policy unit, your national GP Committee engages in a wide range of activities, through Budget submissions, submissions to HIQA, the Medical Council, and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS), to name but a few. We also undertake extensive advocacy work with politicians and other stakeholders to ensure that we hear from working GPs on service development and priorities. This is important work and without it, the GP voice may not be heard. The IMO is also Ireland’s representative on the European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO). So much legislation now originates in the EU and it is vital that we are represented in this forum.
<h3><strong>Irish Medical Journal</strong></h3>
The <em>Irish Medical Journal</em> is a leading peer-reviewed clinical publication in Ireland and we actively encourage GPs and GP trainees to publish, particularly those interested in research. The journal is circulated to all GPs in Ireland and is an important forum for new research.
<h3><strong>IMO Financial Services</strong></h3>
IMO Financial Services (IMOFS) is a wholly-owned company of the IMO and has been serving the medical profession for 25 years. The company not only offers tailored financial products to our members but also, as part of your membership fee, will undertake a full financial review of your needs at all stages of your career. Many GPs simply do not pay enough attention to their own personal financial plan, particularly for retirement, and it is critical that we all put some time aside during each year to have a financial check-up. The service that IMOFS offers is delivered by a qualified team of financial advisors and is personal to each individual.
Your membership of the IMO is important to us and we want to ensure we are important to you and that you receive value for money for your membership fees. So before contacting or paying another service, think about ringing the IMO first — we may not do everything, but we do quite a lot and you can always be assured we will do our very best.
<strong><em>Dr Padraig McGarry is Chairperson of the IMO GP Committee.</em></strong>