Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Ceisteanna (363)

Richard Boyd Barrett


363. Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett asked the Minister for Health the reason he has not engaged with an organisation (details supplied) in relation to the crisis in general practitioner healthcare; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7873/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Officials from my Department have previously consulted with the organisation in question in relation to a range of issues affecting general practice.

Currently, the Department and the HSE are engaged with the Irish Medical Organisation as the established representative body for GPs around the modernisation and reform of the GMS GP contract.

Our goal is to develop a contractual framework that has a population health focus, providing in particular for health promotion, disease prevention and for the structured care of chronic conditions. This will enable GPs to better meet the needs of patients and will also promote general practice as a viable and rewarding career for both existing doctors and future medical graduates.

Discussions are ongoing in an effort to bring matters to a conclusion.  Agreement on the delivery of a range of service improvements and contractual reforms has the potential to facilitate a substantial increase in the resourcing of general practice on a multiannual basis.  

The Government is committed to the continued development of GP capacity to ensure that patients across the country continue to have access to GP services. As of 31st December 2018, 2,491 GPs hold GMS contracts with the HSE up from 2,098 in 2008. A further 430 GPs hold other contracts to provide services such as immunisation, Heartwatch, Methadone and cancer screening.  Currently less than 1% of GMS panels are vacant and in each case a locum or other appropriate arrangement has been put in place to maintain GP services to the communities in question.

The Government has implemented a number of measures to improve recruitment and retention in general practice in general practice. These include an increase in GP training places from 120 in 2009 to 202 places available in 2019; changes to the entry provisions to the GMS scheme to accommodate more flexible GMS contracts; the extension of the retirement age for GPs with GMS contracts to 72; and the introduction of an enhanced support package for rural practices.