Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Health

General Practitioner Services

Darren O'Rourke (Meath East, Sinn Fein)
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768. To ask the Minister for Health the details of general practice services in Kells, County Meath; the number of general practitioners providing care to persons with medical cards; the details of proposals to address the shortage of general practitioners in the area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3506/20]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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The Government is aware of the workforce issues facing general practice in Kells and other parts of the country, and has implemented a range of measures in recent years to improve recruitment and retention in general practice. 

The Agreement reached in 2019 on GP contractual reforms and service developments 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.

In addition, the number of medical graduates undertaking GP training has increased from 120 in 2009 to 192 filled places in 2019. 217 training places are available for 2020, and the number of doctors applying to the training scheme commencing in 2020 is the highest on record at 461. 

I am confident that these measures will help make general practice more sustainable and a more attractive career option for doctors, to the benefit of doctors and patients across the country.

Regarding the number of GPs providing care to medical card and GP visit card holders, the number of GPs contracted by the HSE under the GMS scheme has risen from 2,098 in 2008 to 2,509 at the end of 2019.

Finally, in relation to the details of general practice services available in Kells, as this is an operational issue I have asked the HSE to reply to the directly to the Deputy in relation to this issue.

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