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South Tipperary GPs to sign under sixes contract

The agreement follows positive communications between the NAGP and the HSE.

The NAGP stated that the HSE has agreed to engage with it in relation to any matters that may arise relating to the operation of the contract and in relation to general contractual issues.

The body said the HSE has also given assurances that the “development of community based services in primary care will be considered for inclusion in the 2016 estimates and service plan”.

Dr Martin Rouse, a GP in Clonmel, Co Tipperary, said the group welcomes the resolution.

“We now have an opportunity through engagement to lobby on behalf of our patients and we have been able to get clarification on issues which were discouraging us from signing,” Dr Rouse said.

“We have made the decision to sign to prevent further patient displacement. It has always been our objective to maintain the level of service that our patients have come to expect from us, and we look forward to the provision of the additional supports which will be essential to the delivery of this scheme.”

Dr Rouse further welcomed what the NAGP described as the HSE’s decision to recognise the NAGP’s role as a GP representative body.

“While we are not all members of the NAGP, it is important to us that every GP should have the right to be represented by a union of his or her choosing, and that engagement on issues arising from the terms and conditions of this contract should not be limited to one organisation and exclude another,” he said.

Mr Chris Goodey, CEO of the NAGP, said: “The GPs in south Tipperary have had legitimate concerns in relation to the delivery of the under-six scheme. On foot of engagement with the HSE Director General and clarification on important issues, the GPs have agreed to sign the interim contract.”

Mr Goodey said he hopes this resolution marks the beginning of constructive engagement between the NAGP and the HSE.

However, in his speech at the MacGill Summer School yesterday, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar made no reference to the NAGP becoming involved in the ongoing GMS contract talks.

“I’m looking forward to concluding discussions with the IMO on further extending the scope of – and access to – general practice ahead of the March 2016 deadline if possible. However, I would not like GPs to become de facto public servants, entirely dependent on the State for their income. Their autonomy is one of the things that makes general Practice work,” the Minister said.

During his speech, Minister Varadkar confirmed the Government’s plans to introduce free GP care for under-18s in the next two years, beginning with primary school and then secondary school, if his party is re-elected in the General Election.

“I would like to find a different way to cover adults – who are not already covered – for free access to primary care. I believe there are two options. The first is social insurance, using a reformed PRSI/USC system to refund medical expenses such as GP visits and visits to the pharmacy, dentists and therapists.

“With rising employment, falling unemployment and rising wages, I think it is affordable. It could also be a major step towards a single-payer social insurance based system with payments to providers, or refunds to patients, administered by a new single payer,” he added.

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