I am happy that we have been able to conclude an agreement with the IMO on a major package of GP contractual reforms which will benefit patients and general practitioners, and make general practice a more attractive career option for doctors.
Agreement has been reached on the provision of new services, including a structured chronic disease programme, commencing in 2020, which will benefit over 430,000 medical card and GP visit card patients. A wide-ranging set of modernisation measures has also been agreed in the areas of eHealth, medicines management and multidisciplinary working.
In return for cooperation with these service developments and reforms, the Government will increase investment in general practice by approximately 40% (or €210 million) over the next 4 years. This will see significant increases in capitation fees for GPs who participate in the reform programme and the introduction of new fees and subsidies for additional services such as the chronic disease programme.
There will be increased support for GPs working in rural practices and for those in disadvantaged urban areas. Improvements in the maternity and paternity leave arrangements have also been agreed, in recognition of the need to ensure that general practice is compatible with doctors’ family friendly commitments.
The HSE is currently drafting a circular setting out the terms of the contractual change. This circular will be issued to all GPs who hold a GMS contract, regardless of what organisation, if any, they are affiliated to. Each GP will then have the option of signing up to the reform measures which will allow them to access the new fees from 1 July 2019. I expect that the circular will issue to GPs in the coming weeks.