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Big increase in general practice budget is urged

15 Nov 2013

By Gary Culliton

A five-fold increase in the portion of the health budget spent on general practice with a corresponding plan for increased patient services has been urged by the IMO.

GP Chair Dr Ray Walley warned that the current Government’s focus on extending free GP care to everyone by 2016 was unhelpful. “Firstly, we don’t believe it will happen,” Dr Walley said. “Secondly, we are concerned that it’s a distraction from the urgent need to increase resources for general practice now to improve patient outcomes today. That should be the priority.”

Successive governments, the IMO charged, have heaped extra burdens on general practice while withdrawing resources at the same time and the number of patients with either medical cards or GP-visit cards has increased by 38 per cent in the past five years, yet the spend on general practice is down by over 7 per cent in the same period.

It said this is unsustainable and will bring the service to the brink of collapse.  Currently, just 2 per cent of the Irish health budget goes to general practice as opposed to 9 per cent of the health budget in the UK, the IMO said.

It formally launched a major campaign, ‘Help Us to Help More’, urging greater resources for the specialty, designed to put the importance of general practice centre stage. Many policy-makers and politicians overlook the critical role played by general practice, according to Dr Walley.

The GP campaign, which would include advertising, public meetings, meetings with politicians and other stakeholders and provide information about the value provided within general practice, highlights the potential of general practice to do more for the health services within communities.

gary.culliton@imt.ie

Date: 
15 November 2013

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