The Government is aware of the workforce issues currently facing general practice, including the limited access to GP services in certain areas.
Several efforts to increase the number of practising GPs have been undertaken in recent years. The number of entrants to GP training has increased from 120 in 2009 to 233 this year, with further increases expected as responsibility for training has transferred from the HSE to the Irish College of General Practitioners. Changes have been made to the entry provisions to the GMS scheme to facilitate more flexible/shared GMS contracts, and to the retirement provisions for GPs under the GMS scheme. An enhanced supports package for rural GP practices was also introduced.
Recent developments in relation to general practice, in particular the 2019 Agreement on Contractual Reform and Service Development, have helped to re-establish general practice in Ireland as an attractive career choice. The additional investment, which will amount to €210 million annually once the Agreement is fully implemented, provides for an increase in capitation fees, improved maternity and paternity arrangements as well as enhanced supports for rural practices. In addition, targeted funding of €2 million will also be set aside to provide additional support to practices in deprived urban areas.
In relation to GP services in Charlestown, Co Mayo and surrounding areas, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly, as soon as possible.