The Department of Health is still in consultation with the Attorney General over whether or not it can negotiate with the IMO on a collective basis about payments made to GPs under the Primary Care Reimbursement Scheme.
Irish Medical Times asked the Department if it received advice from the Attorney General’s office. The Department merely said: “These matters are still the subject of consultation with the Office of the Attorney General”.
Health service management sought legal advice from the Attorney General more than a year ago to see if such collective discussions on payments would breach competition law. IMT revealed in February 2007 that the advice was sought, although it is unclear precisely when the Attorney General was approached about the issue.
The Chief Executive Officer of the HSE, Prof Brendan Drumm, indicated to Irish Medical Times in February 2007 that the advice would probably state that such collective negotiations on payments could not take place.
There have been no negotiations on a new GP contract in more than three years. Any advice that negotiations could not take place on behalf of GPs would have a significant impact on the talks process.