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General Practitioner Data

Dáil Éireann Debate, Wednesday - 20 February 2019

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Ceisteanna (148)

Louise O'Reilly


148. Deputy Louise O'Reilly asked the Minister for Health the estimated cost of reversing financial emergency measures in the public interest, FEMPI, for general practice. [8569/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Under the General Medical Services (GMS) contract, GPs are reimbursed for a range of services they provide to medical card and GP visit card holders. GPs are remunerated for these services primarily on a capitation basis, with a range of additional support payments and fees for specific items of service. GPs are also remunerated for services they provide on behalf of the HSE under other public health schemes, such as the Maternity and Infant Care Scheme, Primary Childhood Immunisation Scheme, etc.

The Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest (FEMPI) Act 2009 imposed a range of adjustments to health contractor payments. These included different levels of reductions to various GP fees and allowances and the elimination of certain payments, resulting in savings of approximately €120 million per annum.

Despite reductions to the payment rates of health contractors made under FEMPI legislation, the total fees paid to GPs under the GMS scheme have increased from just over €472 million in 2009 to approximately €525 million in 2017. This increase in fees is largely due to significant developments and investment in GP services introduced in recent years, with more services being made available to our citizens and additional financial support provided by the HSE.

The Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 now allows the setting and varying of contractor payments on a non-emergency statutory basis. It is my intention to put in place a new multiannual approach to fees in return for service improvements and contractual reforms based upon health policy considerations and engagement with representative bodies.

Officials from my Department and the HSE are currently engaged in talks with the Irish Medical Organisation in relation to the reform and modernisation of the GMS contract. Agreement on the delivery of service improvements and contractual reform has the potential to facilitate a substantial increase in the resourcing of general practice on a multiannual basis. Of course, any agreement must benefit patients and provide value for the taxpayer.

In line with the long-established approach to such processes, and by agreement of the parties concerned, I am not in a position to give further details while engagement between the parties is under way.