Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Questions (190)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

190. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the total number of general practitioners currently practising throughout this jurisdiction; the extent to which this number has fluctuated in the past ten years; the extent to which demographic trends are affecting requirements in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21768/14]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

On 30 April 2014, 2,892 medical practitioners held registration as trained Specialists in the specialty of General Practice on the Specialist Division of the Medical Council's Register of Medical Practitioners. Holding registration does not necessarily mean that the medical practitioner is in active practice in General Practice at this time. This compares with 2,840 on 31 December 2013; 2,731 on 31 December 2012; 2,562 on 31 December 2011; 2,270 on 31 December 2010; and 599 on 31 December 2004.

Prior to 16 March 2009, the Register of Medical Specialists (Medical Practitioners Act 1978) was a voluntary Register and only became a statutory Division of the Register on that date, following the commencement of Part 6 the Medical Practitioners Act 2007.

The following table shows the number of GPs who held a General Medical Services (GMS) contract over the period 2004 to date:

Date

GMS Contract Holders

30 April 2014

2,416

31 December 2013

2,413

31 December 2012

2,353

31 December 2011

2,277

31 December 2010

2,258

31 December 2009

2,136

31 December 2008

2,098

31 December 2007

2,129

31 December 2006

2,095

31 December 2005

2,018

31 December 2004

1,984

On 30 April 2014, there were a further 475 GPs who were not contracted under the GMS scheme but who hold contracts with the HSE under other schemes, such as the Primary Childhood Immunisation Scheme, the Health (Amendment) Act 1996, Heartwatch and the Methadone Treatment Scheme.

There are currently 157 GP training places per year. The number of places increased from 120 in 2010.

In July last year, my colleague Dr James Reilly, Minister for Health, established a Working Group, chaired by Professor Brian MacCraith, President of DCU, to carry out a Strategic Review of Medical Training and Career Structure. The Working Group will examine and make high-level recommendations relating to training and career pathways for doctors with a view to improving graduate retention in the public health system, planning for future service needs, and realising maximum benefit from investment in medical education and training. Professor MacCraith has been asked to furnish the Group's final report by the end of June 2014.

The HSE is currently engaged in a medical workforce planning project, which will include a workforce plan for GPs. When this work has been completed, it will assist in identifying GP requirements.

The OECD Health Data 2013 shows the average number of General Practitioners (GPs) per 1,000 population across OECD countries in 2011 was approximately 0.70. It also shows that Ireland had approximately 0.72 GPs per 1,000 population in 2011. It should be noted that figures for some countries exclude trainees, while others (including Ireland) include all registered GPs.