Wednesday, 26 April 2006
Departmental Strategy Statements.
Mary Harney (Tánaiste; Minister, Department of Health and Children; Dublin Mid West, Progressive Democrats)
We need to ensure we do not limit the number of people who can access general medical service contracts, which is something we have done. I regularly meet doctors who would love to have general medical service practices, but are prohibited from doing so under the current rules which were agreed with the IMO. I met two such doctors last week. We have to use our existing capacity as best we can. I share the view that was expressed by the Deputy. It is clear there will be a focus on primary care in the future. I understand there are approximately 18 million contacts between doctors and patients under the general medical service each year. When one considers that approximately 1.1 million people have medical cards, it is clear that each of them makes an average of almost 18 visits each year. There is a huge level of contact between doctors and patients at that level. It is clear we have to resource the general medical service, in which the greatest amount of activity takes place, in a better manner.