Authority takes legal action over IMO move to withdraw some GP services

The Competition Authority has launched legal action against the Irish Medical Organisation on foot of its refusal to reverse a decision to withdraw certain GP patient services in response to proposed cuts to fees.

After several days of grandstanding, during which the IMO missed two deadlines to comply with the demand to rescind its decision of Jul 8, the authority has now gone to court in an effort to force the union’s hand.

In a statement yesterday, the authority outlined what it is seeking through the High Court:

*A declaration that by withdrawing services, the union is effectively preventing the health minister from reducing fees payable to GPs under the GMS contract, an action the authority said is prohibited under competition law, and is therefore void;

*An interlocutory injunction requiring the IMO to retract and rescind its decision of Jul 8 and not to issue any further decisions to the same or similar effect

*To remove from the IMO’s website its press release of Jul 10 relating to this matter and to publish on its website an open undertaking to reverse its decision of Jul 8 (the press release has been removed).

A spokesperson for the IMO said it “noted the decision” of the authority but added that it intended to “fully defend our position”.

The row erupted after the IMO published on its website details of its intent to withdraw certain GP services in protest at proposed Government cuts to fees paid to GPs under the GMS contract.

The services hit by the GP action include withdrawal from primary care teams, community intervention teams and clinical care chronic disease programmes. The IMO also stated its members intention to withdraw from pro bono work such as routine blood tests and warfarin and blood pressure monitoring, carried out on behalf of medical card patients.

The authority said the relevant legal papers were served yesterday on solicitors acting for the IMO and that a hearing of its interlocutory application is expected to take place within a week.


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