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Minister Harris highlights contract issues to IMO

20 May 2016

Dr Padraig McGarry, IMO

New Minister for Health Simon Harris has highlighted GP contract issues and, in particular, matters he wishes to progress related to chronic diseases, at a meeting with the IMO this week (May 16).

The IMO delegation included President Dr John Duddy, Vice President Dr Ann Hogan, GP Committee Chair Dr Padraig McGarry and Chief Operating Officer Susan Clyne.

“Minister Harris is very well disposed to general practice and progressing issues related to it,” Dr McGarry told IMT, describing the meeting in Hawkins House as a positive one. The union said it looked forward to further productive engagements with Minister Harris on an ongoing basis.

The IMO said programmes to deal with chronic care were undoubtedly next on the agenda. “Hopefully we can work together. I don’t see any reason why we won’t,” said Dr McGarry. “General practice is central to his thinking.”

Minister Harris was described by the delegation as well prepared, with a clear idea of exactly the direction he wanted to take.

Meanwhile, a clarification letter to GPs is expected to be issued by HSE Assistant National Director for Public Health Dr Kevin Kelleher shortly, which will outline that negotiation on extra vaccination workload will be conducted through the IMO’s Framework Agreement with the Government. “The Framework is the agreed process for negotiations and I expect this will obtain in future,” Dr McGarry told IMT.

Dr Kelleher signalled an intention to include extra vaccines in the childhood vaccinations programme at a meeting some weeks ago. A major delay in introducing the new vaccines is not now expected.

The IMO view has been that the extra workload would require negotiation through the Framework Agreement.

The HSE wrote to GPs to let them know that some changes were planned for the Primary Childhood Immunisation Scheme. “This letter does not relate in any way to HSE discussions with the IMO,” it said.

Meanwhile , the union is seeking a clear demarcation between prescribers and dispensers. “Whenever possible, that is best practice in terms of patient safety and ethics,” said Dr McGarry.

This applied to drug dispensing and also with regard to minor ailments, in the union’s view.

“Professionals can work in a complementary fashion but everybody should know what their task is,” said Dr McGarry.

Gary Culliton

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