Press Release

New model of primary care will give people the services they want

The Minister for Health and Children, Micheál Martin, T.D., today (28 November 2001) presented details of Primary Care – A New Direction. These proposals are a key component of the new health strategy published earlier this week.

“Round-the-clock services that are easy to reach will be provided by a new approach to Primary Care. The general public told us that they want themselves, their family members and their communities put at the centre of care delivery,” said the Minister. “Primary care is the first port of call for the majority of people who use health services. It can meet 90 – 95% of all health and personal social service needs,” said the Minister.

This new approach, outlined in a document complementing the main Health Strategy, shifts the emphasis from over-reliance on acute services such as hospitals to one-stop-shops where patients will be able to access GPs, nurses, physiotherapists, chiropodists, social workers and home helps.

“The time is right for a major refocus of primary care services and the introduction of a team approach to primary care. Many other countries are introducing similar reforms. There is a wealth of evidence that team-based primary care is better for both patients and providers,” the Minister said.

The new system, which will be implemented in selected areas during the coming years, will allow members of the general public to enrol with a team and with a GP within that team. The teams will offer 24-hour cover, and because of the number of different disciplines involved, will greatly reduce the demand for specialist services. Diagnostic services, which are often sourced from hospitals at the moment, will be much more easily available.

“What is planned is nothing less than a visionary innovation. Nobody can disagree with the urgent need to address the Primary Care issue. It is central. This Government is delivering on its commitment and responsibility to respond to the public´s analysis of what a modern health service should provide: a first class continuum of care, close to home and available around the clock,” the Minister concluded.