Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
General Practitioner Services
567. To ask the Minister for Health if investment of targeted incentives for general practice and the development of infrastructure, including premises, medical equipment, diagnostic equipment and IT equipment, will be considered, as per the recommendations in a report (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44311/20]
This subject is one which the Department of Finance has responded to in the past. Specifically, question 39811/19 addressed investment in general practitioner infrastructure.
The Minister for Finance at the time advised that his Department had published guidelines for the evaluation of potential tax expenditures. The Department of Finance would remain best placed to respond to the Deputy on this subject.
568. To ask the Minister for Health if further financial supports to allow newly established general practices to remain financially viable and open to patients will be reviewed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44312/20]
569. To ask the Minister for Health if further financial supports will be considered in order for established general practices to employ additional general practitioners, practice nurses and other support staff; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44313/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 568 and 569 together.
Under the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme, general practitioners are reimbursed for the services they provide to medical card and GP visit card holders. The scheme provides a range of supports for GPs. In addition, the 2019 GP Agreement provides for additional and enhanced supports as well as a significant increase in investment in general practice over the lifetime of the agreement.
Under the GMS scheme GPs are paid a subsidy towards the cost of employing a practice nurse and/or a practice secretary. The rate payable depends on the GP's GMS panel size and the level of experience of the nurse or secretary. A practice manager subsidy is also available. GPs working in rural areas who meet the qualifying criteria will qualify for an annual rural support allowance. In addition, locum expenses are provided to cover various GP leave expenses.
The 2019 Agreement on GP contractual reforms will see the Government increase investment in general practice by approximately 40% (€210 million) between 2019 and 2023, providing for significant increases in capitation fees for GPs who participate in the reform programme and the introduction of new fees and subsidies for additional services such as the chronic disease programme. The rural support allowance has been increased for participating GPs, an additional support has been introduced for GPs working in disadvantaged urban areas, and improvements have been made to maternity and paternity leave arrangements.