Free Care deal is a smokescreen for IMO

When the doctor opens up the wound and finds cancer inside, everybody understands the choice – it is either to cut out the tumour, or seal up the wound and allow it to fester. In the latter case, it is only a matter of time until the patient succumbs.

Surprisingly, however, the Irish Medical Organisation continues to leave the cancer inside, and hope that its outward appearance of health will fool everyone into believing that nothing is wrong.

Continue reading »

Do you need a doctor now?

The annual general meeting of the National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) took place this weekend in Limerick. It didn’t tell us anything we didn’t know already – that is, if you have been following the health debate in Ireland for any time. The problem is, like most things in health, most people don’t really follow health issues until they have a ‘health issue’ of their own. It’s a perfectly logical position, but one that allows for a lot of obfuscation by the ‘powers that be’.

Those ‘powers that be’ are the Health Service Executive, the Minister and the Department of Health and ultimately, the government. For them, it’s all about the statistics and how they can be managed. It has very little to do with, and is only coincidentally related to the care of patients. Continue reading »

What now for general practice after the Budget?

Minister for Health Leo Varadkar

So the Budget has come and gone and there has been no major transfer of funds to primary care or general practice, or even any firm indication that it will happen any time soon. This is exactly as I predicted here, but for those who are struggling to make a living as general practitioners, it is not yet a case of ‘abandon hope all ye who enter general practice’.

Yes, the arguments have been well made, and the practical case for siphoning a little bit of the flood of money towards a cheaper, more effective primary care service has not been acted upon, so it might seem – on first impression – that Minister Varadkar is cut from much the same stalk as Minister Reilly. It might seem that he is as intent as Minister Reilly was in maintaining the status quo.

Continue reading »

Irish doctors targeted by other jurisdictions

Irish GPs are being targeted by other countries – who despite having bigger GP to patient ratios than Ireland – need even more highly-trained GPs to expand their primary care services.

General Practitioners in Ireland are also being targeted by countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom and Qatar to emigrate to those countries because of the international impression that general practice is in crisis in this country. Continue reading »

GPs protest, but Leo says ‘No’

We got an almost perfect illustration the week before last of how and why the health service is so dysfunctional, and how the bust and boom cycle aggravates many of the problems it faces. It’s almost certain that these factors – aggravated and intensified for political reasons – have caused deaths among the Irish population that would otherwise not have happened, so it is an extremely serious and important issue.

The event that demonstrated this fact so effectively was the protest at the Daíl by the National Association of General Practitioners, (NAGP) and the subsequent response from the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar – which presumably will be his actual response in the upcoming Budget submissions for his Department.

Continue reading »

IMO votes NOT to review how they lost €10 million (We’ll leave it there lads)

The membership of Irish Medical Organisation has voted not to look into the fact that they dropped a cool €10 million euro (and who knows what else) paying off its former chief executive George McNeice. Neither is it going to look into any of the activity that went on while McNeice was chief executive, including the practice of paying the President €100,000 a year but then presenting the President’s wife a bouquet of flowers at the AGM (always in George’s hometown of Killarney) as a ‘thank you’ for her husband’s hard work for the year.

Yes, well, that and the hundred grand they didn’t tell the members about 😉

Continue reading »

GP’s unable to make a living in rural Ireland

There has been a Dr Casey working as a GP in Clifden since 1916. When the current Dr Casey’s father, Dr Michael Casey took over in the 1940s, he replaced another Dr Casey (no relation) and when he retired in 1974, his son, Dr John Casey took over.

But it’s unlikely that a Dr Casey will have been the local doctor in Clifden for a hundred years in 2016, despite the fact that Dr Casey’s son, (also John) has qualified as a GP and works in the practice with him.

Continue reading »

First, do no harm

There are at least three phrases the Irish people don’t want to hear again after eating the humble pie of an economic collapse.

Those post-prandial flourishes – “We are where we are”, “legacy issues” and “the actions of a previous government” seem like reasonable excuses, but not when the government seems hell-bent on creating the type of problems now that will come back to haunt us in the future.

Continue reading »

Doctors’ revolution in Limerick

One of my great heroes in journalism was the great John Reed who wrote the definitive book on the Russian Revolution, “Ten days that shook the World” and he did it mostly by being there. He happened to have had the fortune to be in Moscow in October, 1917, and so his eyewitness account of those events has become the standard by which all others are judged.

Limerick isn’t Moscow, and Ireland’s general practitioners aren’t exactly the lumpen proletariat, but last Monday night I got a sense of what John Reed must have felt at the beginning of a revolution. There was a sense that whatever comes next must be radically different from before – a sense that nothing could be the same again.

Continue reading »

Health savings would fund more doctors

The health service does not need more money to improve the service radically and about €2bn should be reallocated to provide more doctors in the system, according to Dr Edward Walsh, the founding president of the University of Limerick. Dr Walsh was speaking at the National Association of General Practitioners‘ annual general meeting in Dublin.

He said Ireland had the highest hospital prices in the OECD, as well as its most inefficient health system, and that €1.7bn would need to be taken off the health budget to make it as efficient as the average OECD country. A further €2bn would need to be taken off to make Ireland as competitive as New Zealand. Continue reading »