SURGERIES will be overwhelmed by patients if the Government pursues its current objectives of introducing free GP visits for all citizens without any increase in resources for general practice.
The warning has come from the GP Committee of the IMO in response to claims made by Minister for Primary Care, Alex White.
Dr Ray Walley, chairman of the GP Committee, said that claims made on Monday by the Minister for Primary Care, Alex White TD, that there was “no evidence” that visit numbers would increase when free GP visits were introduced were “mistaken”.
“The Minister is wrong and his views are not supported by the research. The Government has consistently used incorrect visitation rates as a starting point when the true figure, backed up by published research in the Irish Medical Journal, is 24 million consultations a year in general practice. The research further demonstrates that demand for visits to GP services is likely to increase by four million visits a year (16%) if the Government extends free GP services to all as planned by 2016. The research also confirms that public patients (Medical Cards / GP Visit Card holders) visit a GP on average almost eight times a year (7.72), whereas private patients visit their GP on average just over three times a year (3.3),” he said.
Dr Walley said the Government plans for Universal Health and GP Services which are free to patients are in disarray with even government departments failing to agree, this chaos will create untold problems for patients.