120 surgeries may close over fee cuts – GPs
GPs are warning that up to 120 surgeries around the country could close because of cuts to their fees.
The National Association of General Practitioners (NAGP) has begun a nationwide "patient awareness" campaign to highlight what it calls a "crisis" in general practice.
Doctors have said that the recent 7.5pc cut in GP fees would result in 8pc of practices in Ireland facing major financial difficulties
The campaign, which was launched in Cork over the weekend, will be rolled out nationally over the next four weeks.
It was planned following a warning from the association that cutbacks were having a detrimental effect on the health of the Irish people.
"GP services are now at breaking point and we predict severe difficulties in coping with the day-to-day running of our practices and our patient's health issues," Dr Don Punch, secretary of the association, said.
"The autumn and winter season will bring further problems such as exacerbation of respiratory illness, longer waiting lists and the inability to carry out house calls, often to the weakest and most vulnerable in our society," he added.
The NAGP negotiates and lobbies on behalf of general practitioners on an individual and group level. It has predicted that the cuts will have an enormous impact on general practice, with longer waiting lists, no home visits and changes in fee structures.
The association said that €160m has been reduced from general practice in the last three years and equated it to an average cut of 33pc in funding to the poorest in society.
President of the NAGP, Dr Conor McGee, said: "This could result in the closure of over 120 general practices around the country."
"This nationwide campaign hopes to reinforce our total commitment to our patients and the service that we offer them," he added.
The association has called on members of the public to sign a petition, to contact their public representative and voice an objection to the cuts.