Written Answers. - General Medical Services Scheme.

Jack Wall

Question:

265 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that senior citizens are experiencing major difficulties due to lack of an agreement between his Department and the IMO in regard to warfarin clinics; the plans his Department has to rectify the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3896/03]

Jack Wall

Question:

266 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children the results of the pilot scheme in regard to warfarin clinics that his Department carried out in 2001; his views on whether it was successful; the number of general practitioners who participated; the number of GPs who were paid for these services; the overall cost of the project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3897/03]

Jack Wall

Question:

267 Mr. Wall asked the Minister for Health and Children if his attention has been drawn to the fact that senior citizens, many in poor health, have to travel over 30 miles to warfarin clinics due to a decision of his Department not to proceed with funding for such clinics; the plans his Department has to rectify the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3898/03]

I propose to take Questions Nos. 265 to 267, inclusive, together.

An agreement between my Department and the Irish Medical Organisation provided for a sum of £500,000, €634,869, to be allocated, on a strictly once-off basis, for a limited pilot project for warfarin testing in general practitioners' surgeries. The terms of the deal allowed for payments to be made by the General Medical Services (Payments) Board to general practitioners participating in the scheme on a first come, first served basis until such a time as the available funds were exhausted. A special consultation fee of £27.50, €34.91, was agreed for each patient visit. To date there has been no collation of the results of the pilot scheme so I am not in a position to comment on the outcome.

Information on the exact number of doctors involved in the scheme is not kept in my Department. I have requested the General Medical Services (Payments) Board to provide this information and will forward it to the Deputy as soon as it is available.

In excess of 65,000 claims under the scheme, were received by the General Medical Services (Payments) Board. A total of 39,611 of these claims were processed by the board. The funding available allowed for the payment of 18,180 claims. The remaining claims remain unpaid. However, I am happy to inform the Deputy that some additional funding is to be made available in the current year which will allow for the payment of a number of the unpaid claims. The exact details regarding the amount of funding to be made available and the methodology for its dispersal is yet to be finalised. My Department has also been informed by health boards that in many areas of the country general practitioners were providing this service for their patients prior to this particular project, and that they continue to do so.