The GP Agreement on Contractual Reform and Service Development between the Department of Health, the HSE and the Irish Medical Organisation was concluded in April 2019. Implementation of the Agreement continues in consultation with the HSE and the IMO. In return for cooperation with the service developments and reforms under the Agreement, the Government will increase investment in general practice by approximately 40% (€210 million) between 2019 and 2023, providing for significant increases in capitation fees for participating GPs.
GPs are self-employed private practitioners, most of whom have contracts with the HSE to provide services under various public health schemes. As private contractors, the question of consultant status does not arise.
Where a vacancy arises in a practice with a GMS contract, the HSE becomes actively involved in the recruitment process to find a replacement GP. As at 1st November 2020, there are 19 GMS vacancies, less than 1% of total number GMS panels. In each case a locum or other appropriate arrangement has been put in place to maintain GP services to the communities in question. It is not possible to provide a timescale for the filling of GMS vacancies.
Finally, regarding the availability of GP training, the number of GPs entering training has been increased steadily over recent years, rising from 120 in 2009 to 214 in 2020, with a further increase foreseen in 2021.The planned transfer of responsibility for training GPs from the HSE to the Irish College of General Practitioners, pending the resolution of certain outstanding issues, will allow for further increases in the number of training places in future years.