Varadkar & Lynch welcome agreement to commence negotiations with GPs on new contract

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Minister for Health Leo Varadkar and Minister of State Kathleen Lynch have welcomed the agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) to start negotiations on a new GP contract.

“The IMO, the HSE and the Department of Health have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to start negotiations on a new GP contract. I welcome this very significant development which will allow meaningful negotiations for a new contract to replace the existing 1972 and 1989 documents,” Minister Varadkar said.

“Negotiations are already underway at an advanced stage with the IMO on GP care without fees for the under sixes. This Memorandum will allow discussions on the further extension of universal GP care beyond the under sixes and over 70s. The Government has already stated that all school children should be included in the next stage.

“At the centre of the new contract, we would like to see a new model of primary care which involves management of chronic diseases, by the GP who you know, rather than in hospital clinics. We would also like to see a focus on disease prevention and early intervention, alongside the traditional ‘diagnose and treat’ model.

“We fully appreciate that this new vision for general practice will take time to negotiate, will have to be done with the agreement of GPs, and will have to be properly resourced. But I believe the new contract will be a great benefit for patients and for GPs alike. I want to encourage everyone to seize this great opportunity for General Practice.”

Minister Lynch said: “There is an opportunity over the next year to make major strides in expanding the range of services provided in General Practice. The negotiations will cover all the key issues facing General Practice against a backdrop of and in parallel with major reform of the entire Healthcare system. I am very hopeful of a successful outcome to these negotiations to the benefit of all.”

The Memorandum will allow substantive discussions to start on a new overall GP contract to replace the 1971 and 1989 contracts, no later than 31st March 2015, with a 12 month timeframe for the negotiations. It contains a list of suggested issues which could be included in the outline scope of the negotiations. Negotiations will be carried out within the terms of the Framework Agreement which was signed in June 2014.  A copy of the MoU is attached.

At the same time, negotiations on a contract to facilitate the extension of free GP care to all children under 6 are at an advanced stage. The objective is to have the under 6 service in place subject to the conclusion of the present discussions and the completion of a fee-setting process. The Government is also prioritising GP care without fees at the point of access for persons over 70 years to coincide with the introduction of GP care without fees for children under 6.  This will be facilitated under the existing GMS contract, pending introduction of a new contract.