GPs are independent practitioners who hold contracts with the HSE for the provision of services to medical card and GP visit card holders. Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, GPs are required to provide practice premises and facilities that are fit for purpose, suitable for the delivery of services and sufficient to meet the needs of patients. The medical practitioner also undertakes to work towards meeting and maintaining generally accepted standards in relation to practice premises. To meet these requirements some GPs may be offered facilities to practice in primary care centres or other HSE accommodation.
Under the GMS GP contract, GPs must be available to provide services in their practice premises or by way of domiciliary visits, as appropriate, for their medical card and GP visit card patients for 40 hours each week. They must also make arrangements to enable contact to be made with them, or a locum/deputy, for urgent cases outside of these hours.
The GMS GP contract stipulates that the maximum number of medical card or GP visit card patients that a GP can have on his/her panel is 2,000, or 2,200 if the GP also holds an under 6 contract, except for in exceptional circumstances where the HSE decides to apply a higher limit.
Where a GMS patient experiences difficulty in finding a GP to accept him/her as a patient, the HSE has the power to assign that person to a GP's GMS patient list where the person has unsuccessfully applied to at least three GPs in the area who hold GMS contracts.
The Deputy has asked about the extent to which GPs in Co. Kildare are in a position to accept additional medical card patients; as information on the number of patients on GMS panels in this area is not held by my Department, I have arranged for this matter to be referred to the HSE for direct reply to the Deputy.