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‘Red-eye’ cover facing collapse

14 Oct 2016

Dr Ken Egan

‘Red-eye’ cover for the GP out-of-hours system could collapse after rural family doctors unanimously voted in favour of a motion shifting responsibility for ‘red-eye’ cover back to the HSE. The doctors said they could reduce or cease providing cover should health service management fail to take over its funding, IMT reports.

Failure to address the problem could also exacerbate the already serious levels of crowding in hospital emergency departments (EDs) overnight.

The GPs unanimously agreed a motion at the recent Rural, Island and Dispensing Doctors annual conference in Galway that the responsibility for night-time locum cover should fully rest with the HSE and that GPs should no longer have to pay for it and should withdraw funding.

While some GP co-ops had to pay for the cover, others had it funded by the HSE. The west coast co-ops were all paying for their red-eye cover, as were Caredoc, NoWDOC, Westdoc, Shannon doc and SouthDoc, according to Dr Ken Egan, Chairman of the Irish Association of GP Co-ops (IAGPC), who said: “For certain co-ops, my understanding is that they are paying from an excess of €4,000 to an excess of €7,000 a year per GP. The meeting agreed unanimously that no GP should be paying for red-eye cover; or that the responsibility for red-eye cover should rest with the HSE.

“What will happen is that the doctors in each of the co-ops will just stop paying money and then the responsibility will fall back on the co-ops to go to the HSE and get the funding to provide the service; and if the funding isn’t provided by the HSE the service will be reduced or ceased,” added the Mayo GP.

Dr Egan said: “It’s the start of a situation and it will move on. Like other issues that rural doctors took on, it will take a while to achieve but it’s the start of a momentum.” He stressed the decision was in no way meant to detract from new GP contract negotiations. However, it was felt that the issue should proceed as a standalone requirement for GPs.

“It was felt that the rural doctors should have a priority issue to deal with and that this would be the priority issue for the rural doctors for the next while, rather than getting involved in overall GP contract negotiations,” Dr Egan concluded.

Lloyd Mudiwa

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times