The Government is aware of the workforce issues facing general practice and has implemented a range of measures in recent years to improve recruitment and retention in general practice.
These include changes to the entry provisions to the GMS scheme to accommodate more flexible/shared GMS GP contracts, and to the retirement provisions for GPs under the GMS scheme, allowing GPs to hold GMS contracts until their 72nd birthday.
In addition, the number of medical graduates undertaking GP training has increased from 120 in 2009 to 208 in 2020.
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.
Improved family friendly arrangements are an important feature of the revised contractual arrangements, with an increase in the locum rate for maternity and paternity cover, and an increase in the paternity leave allowance from 3 days to 2 weeks. This is in recognition of the need to ensure that general practice is compatible with doctors’ family commitments.
I am confident that these measures will help make general practice more sustainable and a more attractive career option for doctors.
In relation to New Ross, Co. Wexford, as this is a service matter, I have asked the Health Service Executive to respond to the Deputy directly.