Free GP care for under-12s as part of €210m deal

The Irish Medical Organisation has announced a €210m Government deal for general practice after long-running talks with the Department of Health.

The doctors’ representative group also agreed in principle to extend free GP care for children up to the age of 12, subject to negotiation and the provision of additional resources.

If an agreement is reached to extend free GP care for children up to the age of 12, it will be phased in from the end of next year and over a three-four-year period.

The IMO said additional funding of €80m for the management of medical card patients with chronic disease would be phased in over the next five years. Dr Pádraig McGarry, chair of the IMO GP committee, said both the chronic disease and under-12s contracts would be introduced on an opt-in basis for GPs.

The IMO said the deal would see the reversal of financial emergency (Fempi) pay cuts of €120m imposed during the economic crisis. GPs will be paid the back money in the form of additional capitation payments that they get for each medical card holder.

Dr McGarry said the Fempi cuts had been a major source of anger among GPs. The Government had resisted all demands to reverse the cuts until now, despite reversals happening in the wider public service.

The IMO will organise a series of consultation meetings for members and a ballot of GP members on the deal.

Under the agreement, GPs will receive restoration of the Fempi cuts in four stages, with the first increase made on July 1, with phased increases introduced over the next three years.

“This is not an increase in pay for GPs, this is a restoration of fees for services to patients,” said Dr McGarry.

GP services suffered badly during the austerity years and were left behind as other sectors saw their FEMPI cuts restored.

As part of the productivity arrangements for restoration of fees, GPs will co-operate with health service reform by being involved in the roll-out of community healthcare organisations aiming to deliver targeted services to patients in the community.

GPs will also co-operate with e-health initiatives — healthcare services provided electronically via the internet, such as e-referrals and e-prescribing.

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