‘Uncertainty’ remains at some GP training sites
The long-awaited transfer of GP training from the Health Service Executive (HSE) to the Irish College of General Practitioners (ICGP) has been given a unanimous go ahead by members voting at this morning’s AGM.
Three resolutions have been agreed to change the College’s constitution and to give the green light for the College to take full responsibility for training. Chair, Dr John Farrell, welcomed the “historic moment” and said GP training would move under the College supervision and guidance over the next 12 to 24 months.
It was intended that the transfer would be completed by July 1 2021, and member agreement was sought to consider the transfer at this AGM, rather than convening a separate EGM so soon after the AGM.
Dr Farrell underlined that there had been no engagement on the transfer of responsibility until the industrial relations matters had been resolved. Seventy-seven programme Directors and Assistant Programme Directors who had delivered training for up to 30 years were now employed by the College.
The College was working with Mason, Hayes & Curran on the legal matters involved with the transfer, as well as Crowe Consulting to prepare the budget and to achieve the transfer. It was expected that a Service Level Agreement (SLA) would possibly be in place by July this year with the HSE.
Half of the programme directors group would be taking retirement as part of the agreement brokered by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) with the HSE between July and December this year.
Sligo GP, Dr Roddy Quinn, recalled the “uncertainty and fear regarding the future of GP training” at the AGM of 2018, and that there had been a commitment at the 2018 AGM of the College to hold an EGM on the transfer of GP training to the ICGP.
He added that a “lot of water” had passed since 2018, however, there was still “some uncertainty and no little trepidation” at some of the GP training sites.
All programmes had been asked by the HSE to take on up to 33 per cent more trainees with what appeared to be “a cursory examination of the local implications of such a request”.
At the same time, he acknowledged the hard work put into the transfer by the College.
He felt the decision not to hold and EGM was the proper one, provided the matter was aired at this morning’s AGM as there were many people attending who had an interest and many years in GP training.
It was now the College’s responsibility to ensure it was properly staffed, supported and delivered and he was confident that this would happen.
ICGP Chief Executive, Fintan Foy, said the College had put in huge effort this year to ensure that industrial relations matters had been resolved. After the 2018 AGM, a taskforce had been set up and brought forward a report presented in April 2019.
Over the last two months, Crowe Consulting had met with all 14 programmes and had gathered data to enable the College to present the budget for GP training over the next couple of weeks. He said there was a commitment on both sides, the College and the HSE, that funding would be obtained.
It would not be the same budget as was presented back in 2018, “There is an acceptance for us to grow GP training we will require and acceptable budget to do so,” Foy told members.
There was a chronic shortage of GPs and the College had to increase numbers; he was assured by talks with the HSE that those resources would be met.
Immediate Past President, Dr Margaret O’Riordan described the work of an ongoing sub group which was monitoring the progress of the transfer.