The implementation of the Primary Care Strategy is a priority for this Government. The objective is to develop services in the community which will give people direct access to integrated multi-disciplinary teams of general practitioners (GPs), nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and others.
At the end of December 2012, there were 426 Primary Care Teams operating, i.e. holding clinical team meetings, involving GPs and HSE staff. The 426 Teams provide services for almost 4 million of the population with 2,636 HSE staff members and over 1,692 GPs participating. The HSE's 2013 National Service Plan commits to having 484 operational Teams in place by the end of this year. An allocation of €20 million is set aside in the HSE's 2013 National Service Plan for approximately 250 Primary Care posts to strengthen primary care services. The posts will be filled using the Resource Allocation model, based on deprivation and need, which was developed by the HSE's National Primary Care Office and Health Intelligence Unit. Using this model, the HSE completed a detailed analysis of the numbers and distribution of public health nurses, registered general nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists. The analysis revealed considerable variation across the 17 Integrated Service Areas in ratios of health care professionals to population, and to population numbers in areas of high deprivation. Based on this analysis, it proposed that the following additional posts be recruited to Primary Care Teams:
- 70 Public Health Nurses;
- 37 Registered General Nurses;
- 51 Occupational Therapists;
- 46 Physiotherapists;
- 47 Speech & Language Therapists.
It is the firm intention to have these posts filled as soon as possible in 2013.