'Seismic Shift' in Public Access to GP and Primary Care Services Needed for Health Reform

29 Nov 2017

Health Care Submission

The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has told told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health that an expansion of Primary Care services as recommended by the Sláintecare report would require “a seismic shift” in eligibility and public access to GP and Primary Care services.

Congress told the Committee that all such services should be provided by “directly employed health professionals.”

(The original Congress submission to the Health C ommittee on the Sláintecare report can be read here)

Speaking before the Oireachtas Committee, Liam Doran, Chair of the Congress Health Committee said: “We believe the expansion of these services should, in the context of universal access, be integrated. In other words universal access to GP, and Primary Care services should be seamless and delivered by a Primary Care team of health professionals.”

Mr Doran explained that “the seamless approach is the most effective way of dealing with growing demand, including the management of chronic disease, in a quality assured way.”

He said that discussions on a revision of the GP contract “should be wholly informed by, and against the background of a requirement that, in future, all new GP’s should be directly employed by the public service.

“They should be rostered, particularly in urban areas, on a 7 over 7 basis, as should other key health professionals and all members of the team paid a competitive salary reflecting their role and experience ensuring recruitment and retention,” Mr Doran pointed out.

He said Congress supported the implementation of the Sláintecare Report as it “offers a real opportunity for radical reform, of the current inequitable two-tiered health system, leading to a properly resourced, public health service which is a fundamental social good in any society.”

Mr Doran said that in order to ensure delivery of the reform programme set out in the Sláintecare report Congress was calling for the establishment of an ‘Implementation Office’ located in the Department of the Taoiseach to “ensure a ‘whole of Government’ approach to implementation.”

However, he said the failure to provide “earmarked funding” in Budget 2018 for the implementation of the Sláintecare reform programme was a matter of concern for Congress.