Dáil debates

Thursday, 29 September 2022

Ceisteanna ar Pholasaí nó ar Reachtaíocht - Questions on Policy or Legislation


1:00 pm

Photo of Leo VaradkarLeo Varadkar (Dublin West, Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

There is a disparity and an inequality when it comes to where GPs are concentrated. More of them are in urban areas than in rural areas and more of them are in better-off areas than in less well-off areas. That has been the case, unfortunately, for a very long time.

We have increased the rural practice grant and we have also provided dedicated funding for GPs who operate in disadvantaged urban communities, and that was only done in the last couple of years under the previous Government. I agree that we need to see what we can do to encourage more GPs to operate in rural areas. In the modern world, many do not want to operate single-handedly, and I understand that. GPs now want to work in teams and groups; that is the way the world has moved and we need to acknowledge that. We also need to make sure that out-of-hours services are adequately resourced in order that people are not on call too frequently, which inevitably wears them out over the years.

Given the Government's announcement in regard to a further extension of GP care without fees, there is an opportunity now to have an engagement with the Irish Medical Organisation and to look at some of these things in the round as to how we can make general practice more economically viable and more sustainable, and provide better services to people. I would point out that the number of GPs being trained has increased dramatically over the years. It was 120 not that long ago and under the Minister, Deputy Harris, it increased to maybe 250. The plans are now to go up to 350, which is the level we need to be at.


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