Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Questions (424)

Brendan Griffin


424. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Health the financial supports available for general practitioners who wish to take over or set up new practices; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [27712/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, GPs are reimbursed for a range of services they provide to medical card and GP visit card holders. GPs are remunerated for these services primarily on a capitation basis, with a range of additional support payments and fees for specific items of service. GPs are also remunerated for services they provide on behalf of the HSE under other public health schemes, such as the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme, Primary Childhood Immunisation Scheme etc.

Under the GMS scheme GPs are also paid a subsidy towards the cost of employing a practice nurse and/or a practice secretary. The rate payable depends on the GP's GMS panel size and the level of experience of the nurse or secretary.

GPs working in rural areas who meet the qualifying criteria will also qualify for the rural support allowance of €20,000 per annum.

I am pleased that we have recently been able to conclude an agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation 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 and on a wide-ranging set of modernisation and reform measures. 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.

Each GP who holds a GMS contract has been invited to sign up to the reform measures which will allow them to access the new fees from 1 July 2019. I am informed that a high proportion of GPs holding a GMS contract have already responded positively to this invitation.