Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Ceisteanna (74)

John Brassil


74. Deputy John Brassil asked the Minister for Health the action being taken to protect general practitioner services in Milltown, County Kerry; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [48762/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

The Government is aware of the workforce issues facing general practice, including the difficulties in filling certain GMS vacancies. I would like to assure the Deputy that the Government is committed to the continued development of GP capacity, that patients across the country have access to GP services, and has undertaken a number of measures to improve GP recruitment.

The recent Agreement on GP contractual reforms will see an increase in expenditure on GP services of €210 million annually by 2023, providing significant increases in capitation fees for participating GPs, and increases in supports for rural practices and practices in urban areas of deprivation.

In addition, the number of medical graduates undertaking GP training has increased from 120 in 2009 to 192 filled places in 2019, with a further increase expected next year. In a recent press release, the Irish College of General Practitioners stated it had received the highest ever number of applications for its 2020 GP training programme.

Currently there are 2,508 GPs contracted to provide services under the GMS Scheme and as at 1 November 2019, 22 panels, or less than 1%, are vacant.

In relation to the vacant GMS panel in Milltown Co Kerry, the HSE has repeatedly advertised this GMS list of 380 patients in an effort to put in place a permanent GP to serve the practice. However, the financial viability of a practice of this size is a challenge for GPs and it has not been possible to find a replacement.

As a result of this, the HSE wrote to the GMS patients served by this practice in early November 2019 advising them that the practice would close in December 2019 and providing them with information on how to find an alternative GP.

In light of the community reaction to this announcement, Cork Kerry Community Healthcare held a meeting with the local community and public representatives on Monday November 18 to listen to local concerns and to discuss any possible additional measures that could be taken to attract a GP to the GMS contract in Milltown. Cork Kerry Community Healthcare has also postponed the closure of the practice to early 2020 to provide time to the local community to work on possible additional measures.