Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Questions (224)

Seán Haughey


224. Deputy Seán Haughey asked the Minister for Health if non-EU general practitioners will be encouraged to live and work here in view of the shortage of general practitioners including locum doctors; the measures he is taking to deal with the situation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [28314/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

The Government is committed to increasing GP capacity to ensure that patients across the country continue to have access to GP services and that general practice is sustainable in all areas into the future.

General Practitioners are self-employed private practitioners, most of whom have contracts with the HSE to provide services under various public health schemes.

A range of measures have been introduced in recent years that will benefit patients and help make general practice more sustainable and a more attractive career option for all GPs, including non-EU general practitioners eligible to practise in Ireland.

These include changes to the entry provisions to the GMS scheme to accommodate more flexible/shared GMS GP contracts, and to the retirement provisions for GPs under the GMS scheme, allowing GPs to hold GMS contracts until their 72nd birthday. Enhanced supports for rural GP practices have also been introduced. There has also been a significant expansion in the number of places on GP training programmes in recent years; up from 120 places in 2009 to 183 filled in 2019.

An agreement with the Irish Medical Organisation on contractual reform has been recently concluded. In return for cooperation with a wide range of service developments and reforms, the Government will increase investment in general practice by approximately 40% (or €210 million) over the 2019-2023 period.

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 management programme. There will also 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 commitments.