In a statement today outlining its “initial analysis”, the College said it would like to see more detail on the implementation of the policies identified in the Programme and on resourcing of key community-based services.
In relation to the proposed extension of free GP care to all under-18s, Dr Brian Osborne, Associate Medical Director at the College, said: “ICGP notes the Government’s commitment to expanding GP care to under-18s. ICGP welcomes increasing access for patients, but we would remind Government of the major difficulties in terms of capacity which GPs are facing as more Irish citizens are entitled to free GP care.
“Any further expansion of free GP care at the point of contact should be done in consultation with stakeholders and planned and developed in a coherent manner with appropriate resources.”
Commenting on the health measures included in the Programme, ICGP Chair of Communications Dr Mark Murphy said: “ICGP welcomes the call for a new GP contract to be negotiated, with provisions to allow GPs manage chronic illnesses. At present GPs are unable to manage many conditions due to lack of resources.
“GP access to public radiological and endoscopic investigations needs to be facilitated and this must be a priority for the incoming Government. Specifically GPs working in rural areas and deprived urban communities face specific challenges, and the ICGP would like to work with Government to address these issues.”
The ICGP has advocated for increased supports for rural general practice and has welcomed the recent agreement regarding the rural practice allowance. Whilst resourcing the training of more GPs is also welcome, it says many younger GPs are still choosing to emigrate.
Community supports, such as homecare packages, are vital to support elderly citizens and their families and the College acknowledged the commitment to increase funding in this arena.
The College added that GPs are the first point of contact for patients in the healthcare system, including for mental health problems, and must be at the heart of any advances in mental health services. Specifically, key community-based services such as trained psychologists need to be resourced.
In terms of secondary care, the ICGP has welcomed the development of a cross-party 10-year consensus to achieve universal healthcare. However, the College has concerns about the sustainability of outsourcing activity to the private sector via a National Treatment Purchase Fund, instead of developing capacity within the public sector.