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GP visit cards should be replaced by medical cards with accompanying capacity – NAGP

By Dermot - 21st Dec 2017

In a statement this morning expressing “disappointment” with the HSE National Service Plan 2018, which was published yesterday, the Association said general practice is “at breaking point” with “no commitment to introduce additional resources to relieve the crisis”.

“The need to transition from secondary to primary care has been spoken about ad nauseam by the HSE, yet action has not been forthcoming. Yet again in 2018 there will not be any positive move in the direction of the vision of the Slaintecare Report. In 2018 the Government has committed just €25 million to the development of primary care which will be spent on leases for new primary care centres and to support training, therapies and nursing. To make this transition there must be a real commitment made by the HSE and backing given by Government.”

The Association said the National Service Plan “makes no effort” to address the waiting list crisis, with in the region of 684,000 people on lists. 

On the GP visit card scheme, the NAGP said the HSE will continue to expand the scheme “which is effectively creating an apartheid like system of healthcare”.

It stated: “They continue to do this despite the capacity crisis in general practice. The GP visit card is of minimal value to the holder as they will not have access to medications or further therapeutic interventions when required. It is the view of the NAGP that this scheme should be scrapped and converted to full medical cards once resources have been put in place to address the capacity issue in general practice.”

According to the Association, which is the representative body for GPs alongside the IMO, GPs are apologising to patients every day for the failings in the health system.

NAGP Chairman Dr Andrew Jordan commented: “It is both incredibly frustrating and deeply saddening that our system of healthcare has descended to this level. We, as GPs, are in an impossible position. We want to help our patients but we have system that is blocking us from doing that. It is our patients that are suffering and it is very unfair on them, many of them endure debilitating conditions for years before they can get the treatment they need.”

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