Health Minister Simon Harris has said he expects talks on a new GP contract to commence before the end of the year.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Mr Harris said his decision to include the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) in the upcoming talks as significant.
This is because previous minister Leo Varadkar had excluded the NAGP from talks, choosing to only negotiate with the Irish Medical Organisation.
Mr Harris said: “This is significant as it is important that a new contract is delivered. I need the GPs to talk so I am happy to discuss with the NAGP to facilitate that.
“I think it is absolutely essential that we have that new contract negotiated and I want to see the NAGP as a part of that……what I am doing is saying very clearly that when we get down to negotiating the GP contract, which I expect to happen by the end of the year, that the NAGP need to be in the room.”
Chris Goodey, NAGP CEO, welcomed the minister’s stated position: “It is very welcome that Minister Harris will include the NAGP in GP contract negotiations. The NAGP has been strongly and consistently representing the interests of GPs since it’s revival in 2013. We look forward to engaging with the Minister and the Department of Health on a new contract that is fit for purpose.
“There is no doubt that we have to move towards primary care, that has to mean more than just bricks and mortar. It has to mean that we are doing and providing more health services and that people going to acute hospitals today find themselves being able to access more medical care and more services in the communities.
“You can’t do this without GPs. While GPs have a major role to play, so do other healthcare professionals, the dentists, opticians, public health nurse, speech and language therapist, the pharmacist. It has to be multi-disciplinary but the GP has a major role to play, and in fact, does play a major role already.”
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